For the period July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2023, the submission of charter school financial data to the California Department of Education (CDE) is required by Education Code Section 1628 and by Education Code Section 42100 (as amended by Assembly Bill 1994). Charter schools must submit the completed forms to their authorizing agencies by September 15, 2023. The authorizing agencies will submit the forms to their county offices of education, who will submit the forms to the CDE by October 15, 2023.
Charter schools that do not report in the Standardized Account Code Structure (SACS) format must use the Charter School Unaudited Actuals Financial Report—Alternative Form (Alternative Form).
Unlike the SACS format, which has a separate form for each fund, the Alternative Form is designed to include complete information for all funds of the charter school.
The Alternative Form is available in the SACS Web-based Financial Reporting System (SACS Web System), accessed via the CDE Financial Reporting web page at https://www.cde.ca.gov/fg/sf/fr/. Additional information regarding the SACS Web System is available, including the SACS Web System User Guide, training resources, and other financial reporting resources via the CDE website. Please refer to the SACS Web System User Guide and training resources to further familiarize yourself with the functionality of the SACS Web System.
The direct link to the SACS Web System is https://sacs-cde.org/security/login
The charter school should contact their authorizer to obtain access to the SACS Web System. If the charter school chooses to report unaudited actual financial data using the Alternative Form, the SACS Web System version of the Alternative Form must be used, and the data must be electronically submitted to the CDE via the SACS Web System submission workflow process. Please note that the Alternative Form will no longer be available as a downloadable Excel file, and CDE will not accept hard copy submissions of charter school unaudited actuals data.
For assistance with information provided in the Alternative Form, charter schools should contact their authorizing agency or their county office of education. County offices may contact the California Department of Education, School Fiscal Services Division, Office of Financial Accountability and Information Services by phone at 916-322-1770 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For technical assistance with the Alternative Form, charter schools should contact their authorizing agency or their county office of education. The authorizing agency or county office may contact the California Department of Education SACS Web System team by email at email@example.com.
Added object codes 6700, 6920, 8974, 9470, 9475, 9660 for the reporting of subscription assets and related expenses in compliance with GASB 87.
Accessing the SACS Web System
The SACS Web System is the software used for Charter Unaudited Actual period reporting, whether the charter is using SACS or the Charter School Alternative Form. In order to obtain access to the SACS Web System, contact your charter’s authorizing agency to request user accounts be established with the appropriate entity and role(s) assigned. Once your user account is established and you have set up your password, you may log in to the SACS Web System and prepare your Charter’s Alternative Form.
The SACS Web System can be accessed at: https://sacs-cde.org/security/login. Once you have accessed the login page, enter your user name, password, and select the check box stating “Agree to the Terms of Service”. Each time you login to the system, the default view is the Dashboard.
Creating a New Alternative Form
To create a new Alternative Form:
- Verify that the Fiscal Year, located in the upper right-hand corner of the screen, is correct. Use the Fiscal Year selector drop down list (carat icon) to select the appropriate year.
- Select the New Draft button on the right-hand side of the screen.
- In the Create New Draft Submission dialog box:
- Enter a unique Dataset Name
- Select the Entity from the drop-down list. Start typing the name in the entity field to narrow your search.
- Select the Reporting Period
- Select the Dataset Type. In order to create a Charter Alternative Form, the dataset type must state “Charter Alternative.”
- Click the Create Draft button.
The draft Alternative Form you just created is now located on the Dashboard.
Accessing the Alternative Form
To access the Alternative Form:
- Open the Charter School Alternative Form submission in the Dashboard.
- Click the Lock button, located in the upper left corner of the screen, to “lock” the dataset. The form must be locked to allow data entry.
- Select ALT from the left navigation window.
Completing the Alternative Form
Initial Dialog Box
Upon opening the Alternative Form, a dialog box will display that requires the selection of an accounting basis. The charter school may use either the accrual basis of accounting or the modified accrual basis of accounting, but not both. The selection will determine which lines are completed. Click on the appropriate icon for your charter school. A selection must be made to open the Alternative Form.
Internal Form Checks
Once the form is open, red “fatal” errors, known as internal form checks, will appear on the top of the screen. As the form is completed, these errors will gradually clear.
Saving the Alternative Form
In order to ensure that the information you entered is saved, periodically click the Save button (image of the floppy disk) in the upper right-hand side of the screen. Information entered into the Charter Alternative Form is not automatically saved.
Certification, Page 1
The CDS number, Charter School Name, and Charter Approving Entity will automatically be filled in from the SACS Web System. Complete the heading on the Certification to further identify the charter school.
County: Provide the name of the county in which the entity that approved the charter school is located.
Charter Number: Provide the three- or four-digit number assigned to the charter school by the SBE.
After completing the heading, fill in all of the requested information on the Certification.
In the top section of the Certification, please provide information regarding the person to contact if there are questions about the charter school data. It is important that this section is completed in the SACS Web system before it is forwarded to the approving agency so that when the Alternative Form comes to the CDE, there is a contact name, a telephone number, and an email address to contact in case there are questions about the data. There are three signature sections on the Certification; the cells for the signatures and dates of the signatures are locked because the Certification must be signed and dated by hand.
NOTE: An error message will appear on the screen when either the heading or contact information on the Certification is missing. This is to remind the charter school to complete the required information for the charter school, the approving entity, and the county office before exiting the form. The charter school must complete this required information on the Certification and the basis of accounting on the Alternative Form to ensure a valid submission. The CDE will not accept the report if this information is not provided.
In the first signature section, the charter school official must sign and date the Certification, indicating that the form has been approved by the charter school. Also, enter or print the name and title of the person signing the Certification. While the signed certification is not included in the submission, it is to be retained by the charter.
In the second signature section of the form, the authorized representative of the entity that approved the charter school must sign and date the Certification, indicating that the form has been filed with the county office. Also, enter or print the name and title of the person signing the Certification. (Note that the entity that approved the charter school could be the local school district, the county office of education, or the SBE.)
In the third signature section of the form, the county superintendent (or his or her designee) must sign and date the Certification, indicating that the form has been verified for mathematical accuracy. The county superintendent should ensure contact information is complete in the Certification and retain a copy of the signed certification.
Alternative Form, Page 2
The heading will automatically be completed from the data entered in the heading on the Certification.
On the applicable lines of the Alternative Form, fill in the amounts received as revenue (Section A) and expended (Section B) by the charter school for fiscal year 2022–23. Data input is not anticipated or allowed in shaded cells.
The form will automatically calculate the subtotals and totals in the shaded cells. There is no need to type in commas with numbers over 999; the form will automatically format a number with the commas, such as for the number “1,000.” Also, the form will automatically format the numbers with dollars and cents, even if whole dollars are entered. To input cents, just type in the dollar amount followed by a period and then the amount of the cents. If it is necessary to input negative numbers, use the minus sign before keying the number; after entering the number, it will appear with parentheses around the number. Negative numbers that are calculated by the form will also appear with parentheses around the number.
In Section C, the form will calculate the difference between the revenues and expenditures to indicate if there is an excess or deficiency of revenues over expenditures.
In Section D, report any other financing sources, uses, or contributions between unrestricted and restricted accounts. Line D.3 must net to zero, or a warning will appear in red above the total column for line D.3.
Section E will calculate the increase or decrease in the Fund Balance/Net Position after the other financing sources and uses are taken into consideration.
In Section F, enter the Beginning Fund Balance/Net Position as of July 1 on line F.1a. The current year beginning fund balance/net position should match the prior year ending fund balance/net position filed with CDE.
Note that charter schools’ 2021–22 ending fund balance/net position are on file at the CDE. If there has been an adjustment to the ending fund balance/net position that affects the 2022–23 beginning fund balance/net position, the adjustment or restatement should be shown on line F.1b. Line F.1b applies to both audit adjustments (Object 9793) and Other Restatements (Object 9795). If an audit adjustment is reported in Object 9793, the Adjusted Beginning Fund Balance/Net Position on line F.1c should match the audit report.
After the beginning fund balance/net position is entered, the form will calculate the Ending Fund Balance/Net Position as of June 30 on line F.2. Also, in Section F below the Ending Fund Balance/Net Position, charter schools need to provide the Components of Ending Fund Balance, or the Components of Ending Net Position.
Object 9790M is a calculated field for the Components of Ending Fund Balance and Object 9790A is a calculated field for the Components of Ending Net Position. If Object 9790A is positive in the restricted column, a warning message will appear in red. The warning must be cleared by adjusting objects 9796 and 9797 amounts. (Note that data cannot be entered for objects 9711, 9712, and 9713 in Section F. However, if data are entered for objects 9130, 9320, and 9330 in Section G, the data will automatically pull into the appropriate objects in Section F in the Modified Accrual Basis section.)
Input all assets, deferred outflows, liabilities, and deferred inflows in sections G, H, I, and J, and the form will calculate the Fund Balance/Net Position as of June 30 in Section K. Note that Section K must agree with the Ending Fund Balance/Net Position as of June 30 on line F.2 (there is a $10 allowance for rounding). If Section K does not agree with line F.2, a warning will appear in red above the applicable Unrestricted or Restricted columns for Section K. The red warning must be cleared by adjusting the incorrect amounts. (NOTE: an internal form check [IFC] will display upon closing the form when Section K does not agree with F.2.)
Section L must be completed if the charter school received revenues from federal sources during the fiscal year, whether the funds were received directly from the federal government or through state or local agencies. The information is used in determining if the maintenance of effort (MOE) requirement under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), was met. For charter schools using the Alternative Form, the CDE will use the information provided by the charter school on L.1 and L.2, page 5, in conjunction with the revenue and expenditure information provided on pages 1 and 2, to calculate compliance with the federal MOE requirement (L.3, page 6).
ESSA provides that in order for a local educational agency (LEA) to receive its full allocations under covered programs for a particular fiscal year, its state and local funded expenditures for free public education in the preceding fiscal year must not be less than 90 percent of those in the second preceding fiscal year, in the aggregate or on a per capita expenditure basis (20 USC 7901; ESEA Sec. 8521). This is to ensure that funds under covered programs are used to provide services that are in addition to the regular services provided by the LEA to participating children. For more information on federal maintenance of effort, refer to Section 8521 of the ESEA, as amended by ESSA, posted on the U.S. Department of Education website at https://www2.ed.gov/documents/essa-act-of-1965.pdf.
The categories that must be completed for federal MOE are as follows:
Federal Revenue Used for Capital Outlay and Debt Service:
Program Name: Enter the federal program name. Up to ten federal programs can be listed. If more lines are needed, please contact the CDE by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Capital Outlay: Enter the portion of expenditures reported in Section B, Line 6 for Capital Outlay that was paid using federal revenues.
Debt Services: Enter the portion of expenditures reported in Section B, Line 7 for Debt Services that was paid using federal revenues.
Total: The form will automatically total the capital outlay and debt service amounts.
Community Services Expenditures:
On the appropriate objects of expenditure lines, report the amounts of any state and local funds that were spent for community services purposes. Community services are activities provided to community participants other than students, such as the operation of a community swimming pool, a recreation program for the elderly, or a community child care center for working parents.
Total: The form will automatically total any community services amounts entered in the amount column.
NOTE: An IFC will display upon closing the form if all requested information has not been completed for items 1 and 2.
Supplemental State and Local Expenditures made as the result of a Presidentially Declared Disaster:
On the appropriate line list the Presidentially Declared Disaster, a brief description, and the amount of Supplemental State and Local Expenditures. Up to four Presidentially Declared Disasters can be listed. If more lines are needed, please contact the CDE by email at email@example.com.
State and Local Expenditures to be Used for Annual Maintenance of Effort Calculation:
The total in this section will be used for comparison with the prior year total State and local expenditures subject to MOE on both an aggregate and per capita expenditure basis. (Note: per capita expenditure calculation uses Annual ADA counts).
Absent a waiver, failure to meet the required 90 percent expenditure level on both the aggregate and per capita expenditure basis in any year, if LEA has also failed to meet such requirements for one or more of the five immediately preceding fiscal years, may result in a reduction of allocations under covered programs for the applicable funding year. CDE will reduce allocations in the exact proportion by which the charter school failed to meet the MOE requirement. The reduction amount is equal to the allocation amount times the “deficiency” percentage based on the aggregate or per capita expenditures, whichever is less.+
For a list of covered programs, please see page 20 of the Non-Regulatory Guidance: Fiscal Changes and Equitable Services Requirements under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as Amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), posted on the U.S. Department of Education website at https://www2.ed.gov/policy/elsec/leg/essa/essaguidance160477.pdf
After the Alternative Form is completed and saved, the Technical Review Checklist (TRC) must be run.
TRCs provide a means by which charters can assess whether they completed the Alternative Form correctly and allows them to provide explanations to their authorizing agency and the CDE for discrepancies in their data.
To run the TRCs, navigate to the TRC menu on the left navigation menu and select “Technical Review.” There are two options for viewing the TRCs as they run. You may select to view all TRCs and whether they pass or fail, or you may choose to view exceptions only and only review the TRCs that either fail or have a warning status. Once the Technical Review screen has opened, select your preferred method to view the TRCs and “Start”.
Each TRC will have an outcome of Passed or Exception. Fatal TRCs with a notation of “Exception” MUST be corrected. Warning TRCs with a notation of “Exception” should be corrected, or if the exception is valid REQUIRE an explanation. The TRC Explanations screen is used to review the TRC status and for keying narratives for valid Warning TRC exceptions. Select the Explanations option on the TRC menu within a submission to review the TRC status.
The first step in clearing an exception is to determine whether the check is applicable to your charter. If so, and if the data is verified as correct, provide an explanation of the details supporting the exception. Please be specific; do not include general explanations such as “Will be fixed next year,” “OK,” or “Don’t know.” While the checks are written as detailed as possible, when an item does not apply to your charter, it is acceptable to provide brief explanations (e.g., N/A xyz is not necessary in our charter because we do not have this program). Your explanations provide the reviewer of your report the information necessary to complete the review.
When an exception is explained, and then subsequently corrected, the TRC automatically deletes the explanation when the TRC is run again.
The Alternative Form data is saved in a file referred to as a dataset. Datasets may exist in a variety of different states. As a dataset moves through the different states, it moves closer to the ultimate goal of submittal to the CDE.
A brief description of different dataset states you may see is as follows. Note that not all states are visible to all users, or applicable to all LEA types:
- Draft Datasets are visible on the Draft Dataset List only for the user who created the dataset. An LEA user may have up to five draft datasets for a selected entity and fiscal year.
- Datasets in the Pending Internal Review state are visible to the user who created the dataset and users with the Dataset Approval role, on the Draft Dataset Approval queue
- The New Dataset Submission state is the initial state in which other users with the Edit Dataset Role within the entity may edit the form and import data.
- The Data Entry state is used to edit forms, import data, and to allow manual entry of data elements, as well as run validations and make corrections.
- The Update Dataset state is reflected when oversight returns a dataset for corrections.
- The Promote to 1st Level LEA Review state is used when the dataset has been sent to the 1st level of Oversight to review the submission and approve or reject the submission. For Charter schools this is their authorizing LEA. The submission is locked for data edits by the submitter.
- The Promote to 2nd Level COE Review is used to provide an additional review level for submissions of charter schools authorized by school districts. The submission is locked for data edits by the submitting charter school and first level school district reviewer.
- The Pending CDE Authorization state is used to move the submission in the unaudited actuals reporting period to the CDE workflow for CDE review and approval. This state is applicable for COE users only.
Submitting the Alternative Form
The Alternative Form submission must have official status in order to be accepted by the CDE. Prior to verifying the official status, all TRC exceptions must be cleared. To verify the official status, click the Verify Official Status button at the top left of the screen.
Prior to submitting the Alternative Form data, lock and save the alternative form before returning to the dashboard.
To electronically submit the Alternative Form for review and ultimately to the CDE, update the State field in the submissions queue to promote to the appropriate level of review (see discussion of dataset states above for more information) and select Save. This electronically sends the Alternative Form to the next level of review via the SACS Web System submission workflow process. Note that each state needs to be accessed via the appropriate submission queue, available via the Queues menu. The dataset must be sent via this method to the charter-approving agency on or before September 15, 2023. A signed hard copy of the certification should also be provided to the charter-approving agency. Remember to keep a copy of the signed certification for the charter school’s files.
The county superintendent (or his or her designee) will electronically submit the Alternative Form to the CDE via the SACS Web System submission workflow process on or before October 15, 2023. The county office of education will keep the signed certification in their files.
Printing the Alternative Form
In order to print the Alternative Form, open the Alternative Form and select the printer icon in the upper right-hand side of the Alternative Form. A PDF will open that you may print or save to your computer.
Exporting the Alternative Form
There are two options for downloading the Alternative Form. It may either be downloaded as an Excel File (which can NOT be uploaded into the SACS Web System) or as a .dat file (which can be uploaded into the SACS Web System).
To export the Alternative Form into Excel, open the Alternative Form and select the icon immediately to the left of the printer on the upper right-hand side of the screen.
To export the Alternative Form as a .dat file, select Export from the left navigation menu of the Alternative Form submission. Select the desired type of export. An Alternative Form exported as “Official” must be complete and passing all TRCs. An Alternative Form exported as “Other” may be exported at any time. Following your selection of an export type, select “Export” and follow the prompts.
Note that exported Excel or .dat files should not be sent to the CDE. The Alternative Form must be submitted to the CDE as described above under Submitting the Alternative Form.
Importing the Alternative Form
Only Alternative Forms already exported from the SACS Web System in the .dat file format may be imported. In order to import a previously exported Alternative Form, select Single Import under Import on the main menu. In the Import Submissions Data screen:
- Select the type of import (official or other).
- Enter the dataset name.
- Select the reporting period.
- Select the dataset format.
- Click +Select File to access the file to be imported.
- Click Upload.
The message File Saved Successfully will appear in a green box on the screen. Your uploaded file will now appear on the dashboard in the SACS Web System.
Additional Guidance for Completing the Alternative Form
For accounting guidance, including detailed descriptions of the object codes utilized in the Alternative Form, please see the downloadable Charter Alternative Form User Guide, available on the CDE Financial Reporting web page at https://www.cde.ca.gov/fg/sf/fr/.