Charter school retirement at CalSTRS
The California Legislature enacted the Charter Schools Act of 1992 to authorize the establishment of charter schools pursuant to California Education Code Sections 47600 through 47663.
Charter schools are created via charter petitions initiated by teachers, parents, community leaders or community-based organization. Providing instruction in any of grades K-12, these non-profit public schools are a specialized program intended to serve the needs of California’s diverse students.
Charter schools electing CalSTRS retirement coverage
The current law allows charter schools the option of retirement coverage by the State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS), the Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS), or federal social security (SSA).
Charter schools electing CalSTRS are subject to Teachers’ Retirement Law in the same manner as the regular school districts.
CalSTRS retirement benefit provides retirement, disability and survivor benefits for full-time and part-time California public school educators through a hybrid retirement system consisting of the following:
- Defined Benefit Program
- Defined Benefit Supplement Program
- Pension2®, a voluntary supplemental savings plan
- Cash Balance Benefit Program
To be eligible to participate in CalSTRS retirement programs, a charter school must meet all of the following:
- Charter school is a California non-profit public charter school.
- Charter school has a valid charter petition approved by a local school district governing board.
- Charter school has a Charter Number assigned by the California State Board of Education.
- Charter school has a County-District-School (CDS) Code assigned by the California Department of Education.
Charter school application for CalSTRS activation
A charter school electing the option to offer CalSTRS retirement program must apply for CalSTRS activation. CalSTRS activation requires valid and executed documentation including but not limited to the following:
- CalSTRS Activation Packet ES1796.
- Governing Board Minutes, Official Memorandum or Resolutions adopting the following:
- Charter Petition.
- Memorandum of Understanding.
- CalSTRS Activation Application.
- Electronic copy of Charter Petition, Memorandum of Understanding, Board Approved Resolutions.
- Proof of Registration to the California Department of Education – Application or notice for a CDS Code.
California Education Code laws for charter schools
- California Education Code 47600-47663 – Charter Schools Act of 1992 provisions on the establishment, operation, and funding of charter schools in California.
- California Education Code Section 47605 – Element K provisions on the manner by which staff members of the charter schools will be covered by the State Teachers’ Retirement System, the Public Employees’ Retirement System, or federal social security.
- California Education Code Section 47611 – Informs charter schools that participation in CalSTRS means that all parts of Teachers’ Retirement Law apply.
- California Education Code Section 47611.3 – Requires school districts or county offices of education to report contributions and data to CalSTRS on behalf of charter schools.
California Department of Education
Additional information about California charter schools are available at the California Department of Education website. Explore the following quick links for overview.
- Administrative Functions – Direction on administrative functions such as charter numbering, renewals, closures and the annual information update.
- Laws, Regulations, and Policies – State and federal legislation, laws and regulations, and policy guidance for charter schools.
- FAQs About Charter Schools – Questions commonly asked about charter schools.
- Charter School Locator – Tools for locating California charter schools, including a map search and a searchable directory. Provides basic charter information, as well as directory information.
CalSTRS contact information
Charter school employers
Questions and interests about CalSTRS retirement programs, contact CharterSchoolQuestions@CalSTRS.com.
Questions about charter school employment, contact our Member Service Centers.