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Eva Moskowitz’s Success Academies Lays Off During COVID Despite $60M in Reserve, AND She’s Hiring!

May 3, 2020

According to the April 21, 2020, New York Post, Eva Moskowitz’s New York-based Success Academy (SA) charter school network has laid off 90 staff and 25 central office workers amid the coronavirus pandemic. From the article:

Moskowitz said the none-core layoffs were triggered by a “significant cut” in state aid from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s $177 billion, coronavirus-wrecked budget that was approved earlier this month.

“It was a reduction of $1,000 per pupil,” Moskowitz said, of funding in the budget.

Moskowitz also cited emergency costs stemming from the public health crises as justification — like expenditures to ship projectors and other supplies to teachers for remote learning. …

Success Academy relies heavily on private donations and philanthropies for funding and any extended financial plunge would likely harm their operations.

A Success Academy source acknowledged some unease but said that the network is getting out in front of looming financial strains with the layoffs.

So, Moskowitz’s justification for cutting loose 115 non-teaching employees in the midst of a pandemic includes a $1000-per-pupil reduction in funding. According to SA’s “about” page, SA has 18,000 students, which means a net loss of $18M. That’s a lot of money.

But you know what else is a lot of money? SA’s end-of-year fund balance across the years, which has been increasing rather handsomely (and which took no hit as a result of the 2007-09 Great Recession):

SA Fund Balance Across Fiscal Years 2006-2017:

  • FY2017:  $60.3M
  • FY2016:  $55.2M
  • FY2015:  $55.4M
  • FY2014:  $50M
  • FY2013:  $32.4M
  • FY2012:  $23.2M
  • FY2011:  $10.7M
  • FY2010:  $7.3M
  • FY2009:  $4.1M
  • FY2008:  $2.3M
  • FY2007:  $1.3M
  • FY2006: $226K

Based upon SA’s tax returns from FY2006 to FY2017 (the most recent available), I’m not seeing any indication of SA facing “looming financial strain.”

Note also that there is a second nonprofit associated with SA schools, SA NYC. From FY2013 to FY2016, its end-of-year fund balance has held steady between $18M and $21M. In FY2017, SA NYC reserves took a dip, to a paltry $12M.

Therefore, between the two SA school-related nonprofits, Moskowitz’s SA reports a $72M end-of-year fund balance for FY2017 (the most recent filing).

With $72M in reserve as of June 2018, SA can afford to lose $18M in public money in 2020 and still retain employees– if Eva Moskowitz wants to.

Apparently, she does not, as April 21, 2020, Chalkbeat NY highlights:

One network employee who was laid off and spoke on condition of anonymity said employees were not offered severance, though healthcare benefits would extend into the summer.

“Success Academy is an incredibly well-resourced organization,” the staffer said. “For them to offer no financial assistance for laid off employees in these economic conditions speaks to what the executive office values, which is certainly not its employees.”

Consider that if the 115 laid-off employees are each paid an average of $200K per year (not likely, but let’s err on the high end of SA payroll, here), then the cost of retaining these employees for one year would be $2.3M, not $18M– and based on SA tax forms, we already know that SA can afford to lose $18M.

If Moskowitz is concerned about cutting costs in the face of COVID-related budget cuts, she could always slice a bit off of her own salary to keep some of those otherwise-laid-off SA employees on the payroll throughout the COVID crisis:

Moskowitz’s total compensation:

  • FY2017:  $889K (55 hrs/wk)
  • FY2016:  $782K (55 hrs/wk)
  • FY2015:  $679K (55 hrs/wk)
  • FY2014:  $613K (55 hrs/wk)
  • FY2013:  $482K (50 hrs/wk)
  • FY2012:  $578K (60 hrs/wk)
  • FY2011:  $488K (60 hrs/wk)
  • FY2010:  $358K (60 hrs/wk)
  • FY2009:  $404K (70 hrs/wk)
  • FY2008:  $308K (70 hrs/wk)
  • FY2007: $333K (70 hrs/wk)
  • FY2006:  $187K (60 hrs/wk)

Now, I realize that $889K per annum does not go as far in NYC as it does where I live, in St. Tammany, LA, where a comparable standard of living can be purchased for $331K per year– more than that of any state superintendent in the nation (EdWeek’s 2017 reporting.)

Aside from laying off 115 staffers, the New York Post reports that SA also fired two dozen teachers “for low performance.” Again, this did not have to happen in April 2020. Moskowitz could have waited until the school year technically ended.

Regarding the 24 fired teachers, Chalkbeat NY observes, “It was not clear if those educators will be replaced.” But SA is most assuredly hiring, as its jobs page advertises:

Hiring Now!

We’re currently filling positions for the 2020-2021 academic school year for our schools and network office.

Search Jobs

According to SA’s jobs page, SA is hiring “elementary, middle and high school teachers– all subjects” for its schools in NYC, Brooklyn, Bronx, Manhattan and Queens.

The posting is dated “five days ago” as of May 03, 2020, which means this vast SA job posting was publicized on April 28, 2020– one week after the above-noted layoff/firing.

SA posted an ad for a “results driven” theater teacher on April 30, 2020.

Even if Moskowitz does not lay off teachers, SA reviews on Glass Door are replete with comments about high turnover, confusion/disorganization related to the high turnover,  and lack of balance between work responsibilities and personal life. SA burns through teachers, so even in the face of a pandemic, to hold steady, SA must have a ready stream of teachers at its disposal.

At SA, with its millions in reserve, faculty/staff disposal appears to be indispensable.

Think about that.

eva moskowitz

Eva Moskowitz

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5 Comments
  1. Alan J. Singer permalink

    This is really good one. Keep after her.

    Alan Singer, Director, Secondary Education Social Studies Teaching Learning Technology 290 Hagedorn Hall / 119 Hofstra University / Hempstead, NY 11549 (P) 516-463-5853 (F) 516-463-6196

    Follow Alan on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ReecesPieces8

    Blogs, tweets, essays, interviews, and e-blasts present my views and not those of Hofstra University. To unsubscribe, reply UNSUBSCRIBE in subject.

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  2. Nice work! And thank you.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Mercedes Schneider: Why is Eva Moskowitz Laying Off Staff While Hiring New Staff? | Diane Ravitch's blog
  2. Mercedes Schneider: Why is Eva Moskowitz Laying Off Staff While Hiring New Staff? | Diane Ravitch's blog
  3. Eva Moskowitz’s Success Academy Network Needs 1,000 Hires. Don’t Bother Unpacking. | deutsch29

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