What is a Charter School?

Charter schools started about 30 years ago for two main reasons. The first reason was to provide families with an alternative to their neighborhood public school. The second reason was to allow educators to do something different with public education — to be innovative and creative in ways that are new and distinct. 

How Charter Schools Are Different

Charter schools often have smaller classes and readily focus on the individual learning styles of each student. This is certainly the case at Almond Acres Charter School (AACA). Not only do we focus on growing great kids in our small classes, our highly qualified teachers bring unique and intentional lesson plans to our classes each day. Our K-8 charter school uses project-based and service-based learning to instill  a sense of self-confidence.  We help our kids unlock how they’re smart alongside meaningful ways they can contribute to their community. 

girls in front of lockers

Charter schools are public schools that are tuition-free and funded by tax dollars. Charters must meet academic goals in order to have their charters upheld and re-approved. At Almond Acres Charter Academy (AACA), we have been chartered  since 2010. 

AACA is a very unique school because they are so encouraging and passionate about everyone.”   AACA student alumni

At AACA, our mission is to grow great kids.  As our Executive Director

Bob Bourgault, or Mr. B as he is affectionately known by our students, says,

 “Our kids are great. We need to grow them…to treat them with respect and dignity to become the very best version of themselves.”

students dressed up

Identifying How You’re Smart

Each AACA child has his or her own mind, their own way of thinking, and is smart in their own way. Almond Acres charter school enables every student (and faculty and staff member) to identify the ways they individually learn. We created our kite model; a visual, child-focused system to explore and explain how every individual is smart. 

We ask the question, how are you smart, not how smart are you?  We do this in three different ways: affirm, stretch, celebrate. 


We affirm how our AACA kids are smart and how they’re developing.  We help them establish their strengths and their struggles.  We give our students a sense of confidence that with both their strengths and their struggles  — they can learn. 


We stretch our kids. By using their strengths to stretch into their struggling areas, we help our kids to be a better version of themselves, and to learn the things they need to learn. 

kids in blue sweatshirts


We celebrate. We celebrate by high fiving. We celebrate by enjoying cake. We announce wins in our all-school morning meeting. We actively celebrate the awakening of creativity and its accompanying success. 

It’s a simplistic way to think about educating children and even parenting them. Affirm first, then stretch and then  —  celebrate!   

“Small classroom sizes offer a unique and individualized school day.  The teacher really knows where the student is struggling.” AACA Parent 

Moving to Paso Robles

Finding our new location and the space to create the facility of our dreams was no easy feat. Our tuition-free public charter school currently serves over 300 students in North SLO County. After the new site is built we will serve over 500. 

“I’ve been a part of the AACA facility team for five years. We’ve been actively looking for a home that we can call our own in which we can grow and thrive as a school.”  AACA Board President Samer Mohamed 

A  seven-year search for a property that met the school’s budget and safety requirements ensued. Our facilities team is now fully immersed in building and preparation for the fall 2021-2022 school year. Our state-of-the-art charter school will include indoor and outdoor play spaces, collapsible classroom walls to invite collaboration and shared learning, small meeting spaces for faculty to collaborate, and a combinable gym and atrium to hold large events. Our middle school will have science labs and a college-inspired academic library. 

At Almond Acres Charter Academy we believe strongly that when we affirm, stretch and celebrate — we create kids that are intelligent, confident, successful, creative, happy, and caring.  They become leaders in our charter school community  — and throughout their lives.  

About Almond Acres

Almond Acres is moving to Paso Robles. Almond Acres Charter Academy is a public, tuition-free K-8 school that employs credentialed teachers and administers state-mandated testing to provide families in northern SLO County an additional choice in public education. Open to all students in all communities, the school is currently located in San Miguel and moving to Paso Robles for the 2021-22 school year. AACA’s mission is to help students succeed academically and socially by educating the whole child: heart, mind, body and soul. We grow great kids!

Guide to Charter Schools Paso Robles, California

Guide to Charter Schools Paso Robles, California

Are you a parent in search of school options for your kids in Paso Robles, California?

2020 brought many changes to every aspect of our daily lives including children’s education. The massive changes in K-12 education given the COVID-19 pandemic are forcing parents to look for other education options for their kids.

It can be quite challenging to make the right choice regarding kids’ schooling given the many available choices to parents such as online schools, local public schools, private schools, and public charter schools.

This article is meant to guide parents to empower them to make the best choices for their children. This post will answer questions such as “What are public charter schools?” “What tuition free public schools are available in Paso Robles, California” and “What’s the process for enrolling a student in a charter school?”

What is a Tuition-Free Public Charter School in California?

Charter schools are basically public schools that offer instruction in any combination of grades, which can be anywhere from pre-kindergarten to 12th grade. Community members like teachers, community members, and parents can start a petition for a charter school. The local school district’s governing board is usually tasked to study and approve such petitions. Under the California Education Code (EC), the State Board of Education and county boards of education can become charter authorizing entities.

Charter schools as they are also public schools, receive funding from the state. They also have better flexibility in various aspects of the school’s management functions such as curriculum management, hiring, and other functions. Most charter schools are run by an organization under their self-appointed boards while traditional public schools are being managed by school districts with a board-appointed superintendent and elected school board.

Simply put, charter schools have more independence than traditional public schools, allowing them more leeway to experiment and craft instructional and other innovations.

What Tuition-Free Public Charter Schools are Available For Kids in Paso Robles, California?

Parents in search of a tuition-free public charter school in Paso Robles, California can inquire with the Almond Acres Charter Academy (AACA). It is a K-8 charter school offering students a strong and inspiring support system. The school takes pride in providing a project-based curriculum and high-quality service with the help of passionate and highly-experienced teachers. 

Are There Other Tuition-Fee and Public Charter Schools Available in North County and San Luis Obispo County and Other Locations?

There are no restrictions when it comes to a student’s enrollment in a public, tuition-free charter school. Parents can send their kids to any charter school in California that they feel is best-suited for their child. 

In California, charter schools must admit any child as long as he or she is a resident of the state and is qualified to attend any California school. The school district where the child lives should be a non-issue in admissions.

What is The Process for Enrolling the Child in a Tuition-Free Public Charter School?

Charter schools, much like any other school, require an application. Typically, the application process requires providing specific information such as name, birth date, address, ethnic background, and the last school attended.

A parent who wishes to enroll his or her child in a charter school should be mindful of the deadlines for enrollment. One should expect a waitlist for some charter schools, particularly those with a high number of applicants.

Parents should reach out to each charter school as each of them have different enrollment policies and processes. However, under the law, charter schools cannot have admission processes that unlawfully discriminate against students. A tuition-free, public charter school must take in all students who apply unless there are more student applicants than seats available. In such cases, the charter school will have to conduct a random selection process such as a lottery system.

Do Public Charter Schools Offer High-Quality Education?

Parents are often concerned with the quality of education offered by public charter schools. 

Studies often reveal that charter school students make better academic progress than those enrolled in traditional public schools. Consider the following statistics:

  • In the school year, 2009 to 2010, 67 percent of charter schools in California reached student achievement targets on state tests, higher than the 57 percent of non-charter schools
  • In the same year, 74 percent of charter schools met the student achievement targets set for disadvantaged students, higher than the 59 percent of non-charter schools. This shows that traditionally disadvantaged students in charter schools fared better than those enrolled in traditional public schools.
  • In the same school year, middle school charter schools in all sub-groups also fared better than non-charter schools across California.

The charter middle schools in California have consistently demonstrated better academic performance when compared to non-charter schools. This is evidenced by the fact that in the last five years, charter middle schools have outperformed students from non-charter middle schools in the API Growth scores.

2020 Guide to Tuition-Free, Public Charter Schools in California

Are you looking at school options for your child in California?

2020 has brought significant changes to K-12 education and this is causing a lot of parents to consider what education options are available for their children.  It can be hard to know what is the correct choice because there are many options available to parents, their local public schools, public charter schools, private schools and online schools. 

This guide will provide answers to questions like, “What is a tuition-free public school?”,  “What tuition-free public school options are available in California?” and “How do I enroll my student in charter school?”

If you are looking for answers to questions like these, read on!

backpack and supplies

What is a tuition-free public charter school in California?

A charter school is a public school that provides instruction in any combination of grades, kindergarten through grade twelve. Parents, teachers, or community members may initiate a charter petition, which is typically presented to and approved by a local school district governing board. California Education Code (EC) also allows, under certain circumstances, for county boards of education and the State Board of Education to be charter authorizing entities.

Source: https://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/cs/re/qandasec1mar04.asp#q1

Charter schools are public schools that get funding from the state and have greater flexibility in hiring, curriculum, management and other aspects of their operations. Unlike traditional public schools that are run by school districts with an elected school board and a board-appointed superintendent, most charter schools are run by organizations with their own self-appointed boards.

In general, this independence gives charter schools more room to experiment and to come up with instructional and other innovations.

Source: https://edsource.org/2017/10-things-to-know-about-charter-schools/583984

What tuition-free public charter schools are available for students living in California?

Almond Acres Charter Academy (AACA) is a K-8 charter school where the education of our students is built on having a strong and inspiring support system in place. We deliver our high-quality service and project-based curriculum via our dedicated and experienced teachers and our we-are-a-family, tight knit AACA community. 

The California Department of Education also provides a charter school finder on their website for you to search for additional charter school options. 

What other counties and locations in California are served by tuition-free public charter schools in North County and Paso Robles?

Students enrolling in a charter school are not restricted to a certain county or school district. Parents may choose the school that they feel is most appropriate for their child. Charter schools in California must admit any child residing in the state who is qualified to attend California schools regardless of which school district the child resides in.

How do I enroll my child in a tuition-free public charter school?

Charter schools often require an application. Most applications require specific information, including name, address, birth date, name of last school attended, and ethnic background.

If you are considering enrolling your child in a charter school, you should pay close attention to any deadlines regarding that school’s enrollment policy. Some charter schools, particularly those in high demand, will have a waitlist.

Because enrollment policies and procedures vary from school to school, families should contact individual charter schools to obtain specific enrollment information.

Source: http://www.ccsa.org/understanding/families/

Almond Acres Charter Academy is enrolling. Even though the 20-21 school year has begun, we can accept and support new students. 

girl using microscope

What are the requirements for acceptance into a charter school in California?

By law, charter schools cannot have admission processes that unlawfully discriminate against students. Charter schools accept all students who want to attend. If there are more students who want to attend than there are seats available, a charter school will use a process to randomly select students, oftentimes a lottery system.

Source: http://www.ccsa.org/understanding/families/

How much does it cost to attend a charter school in California?

Public charter schools are public schools and are tuition-free. Funding for the schools comes from the state.

Are public charter schools high quality?

Studies continue to show charter school students make greater academic progress than students in traditional public schools. Sixty-seven (67) percent of California’s charter schools met student achievement targets on state tests in the 2009-10 school year compared to just 57% of non-charter schools.

Among traditionally disadvantaged students, those attending charters make greater academic progress than those in traditional public schools. In 2009-10, 74% of charter schools met student achievement targets for disadvantaged students* compared to 59% of non-charter schools. (*these are calculated by assessing California Department of Education “comparable improvement targets”)

California’s charter middle schools consistently demonstrate higher academic performance than non-charter schools. For the past five years, charter middle schools have had higher API Growth scores than non-charter middle schools. In 2009-10, middle school charters outperformed non-charters across the state and with all subgroups.

About AACA

News Update: Almond Acres is moving to Paso Robles. Almond Acres Charter Academy is a public, tuition-free K-8 school that employs credentialed teachers and administers state-mandated testing to provide families in northern SLO County an additional choice in public education. Open to all students in all communities, the school is currently located in San Miguel and moving to Paso Robles for the 2021-22 school year. AACA’s mission is to help students succeed academically and socially by educating the whole child: heart, mind, body and soul. We grow great kids! 

Almond Acres Charter Academy closes escrow on new school site

–Almond Acres Charter Academy closed escrow on a 3.1-acre property on 1145 Niblick Road Friday, Aug. 30, 2019.

The tuition-free public charter school serves 240 students in North SLO County and will be relocating to Paso Robles where 70-percent of its families reside.

“I’ve been a part of the facility team for five years,” said AACA Board President Samer Mohamed. “We’ve been actively looking for a home that we can call our own in which we can grow and thrive as a school.”

After a seven-year search for a property that met the school’s budget and safety requirements, the facilities team can now focus on the project’s next steps.

“The fact that we are going to be in a permanent structure building with our own playground and our own activity field is exciting,” Perino said. “We will have the resources we need to fully execute the educational programing that Mr. B and his team have developed.”

Perino said that he is excited to get moving on developing the blueprint design and construction of the school’s new location, with a swift goal of opening for instruction in Fall 2021.

“Now that we have closed escrow, the real work begins,” Perino said. “We will be working with our bond issuer, the City of Paso Robles, Paso Robles Unified as well as San Miguel Joint Unified school districts, as we move forward with the permitting process and the different approval processes for construction.”

Almond Acres is a tuition-free public charter school that is required to have some of the same fundamental certifications as a traditional public school, Mohamed said.

“The difference [between a charter school and a public school] is we have some more flexibility in how we can teach and what type of curriculum we can offer,” said Mohamed.

When asked about the learning environment at the charter academy Executive Director Bob Bourgault, also known as Mr. B said. “Learning is something you do, not something that happens to you. We spend a lot of time helping each child understand how they’re smart.”

Almond Acres is currently accepting enrollment applications for grade levels K-7. Tours are available upon request. For more information, visit almondacres.com.

Via: Paso Robles Daily News

Almond Acres Charter Academy moves into new campus

Almond Acres Charter Academy opens for classes Monday at its new campus on Niblick Road. The City of Paso Robles gave the charter school permission Thursday afternoon to occupy its new building.

Almond Acres students will attend one week of school at the new campus, then go on Christmas break. They will return in early January to their new building near the intersection of Niblick and Creston Roads.

Constructions crews have worked all year to prepare the buildings for occupation and instruction. Principal Bob Bourgault hoped to get the school open in the fall, but work continued into early December. Bourgault says the floor is not complete in the gym. They hope to finish the gym by mid-January.

The $15 million dollar Almond Acres Charter Academy campus will accommodate 450 students in grades Kindergarten through 8th grade. Previously, the school was located at Lillian Larsen Elementary School in San Miguel. So far this academic year, the students attended classes at Centennial Community Center and Paso Robles Youth Arts Foundation.

Staff and teachers assembled desks and other equipment in the new building this past week to prepare for opening day on Monday.

Bougault says, “We’re thrilled to finally move into our own campus. After weeks of waiting for completion, we have nearly reached our goal. It’s very exciting.”

via: Paso Robles Daily News

Random Public DrawingThursday, March 25th at 6pm

Join us via Zoom for a random, public drawing to determine enrollment and waitlists for the 2021-2022 school year!