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NPE Publishes Comprehensive, State-by-State Listing of PPP Money to Charter Schools

July 27, 2020

The Network for Public Education (NPE) has composed a state-by-state listing of charter schools, charer management orgs (CMOs), and education management orgs (EMOs) that have received Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans impacting small businesses and nonprofits as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The looming question is whether charter schools– which receive public funding– suffered any reduction in funding as a result of the pandemic– or whether charter schools see PPP’s likely-forgivable loans as an opportunistic grab.

Indeed, a June 25, 2020, Utah Military Academy board meeting discussion has found its way into the Utah news for such an opportunitsic view. KUTV.com offers this segment of Utah Military Academy discussion of its planned PPP loan exploitation:

“So we take this money to pay the salaries, and the money we were going to pay salaries is going to go into our accounts to help flush up our funds,” said the board member.

“Can I ask a question?” a female voice said. “My understanding was that this money is for businesses who, because of the drop in business, were having trouble keeping all their employees. How do we qualify for that? Because our funding wasn’t cut at all.”

She also notes that no employees have been laid off by the school because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Two more voices interject, “We’re a business,” and, “We’re a nonprofit.”

A third voice is heard saying, “It’s some of that good free government money!”

KUTV.com notes that it was able to access the Utah Military Academy board meeting “thanks to recordings of board meetings that the state requires charter schools to post publicly.” However, as of this writing, the Utah Military Academy board meeting archives ends at May 2020 and does not include the June 2020 meeting referenced above.

The February 15, 2020, Daily Herald reports that the Utah Military Academy was placed on warning in December 2019 by the state’s charter school board, for issues including “he school’s precarious financial situation and its mismanagement of a variety of other issues, including forgeries of signatures and dates on special education documentation, grade inflation to help a student gain admission to West Point and the school’s continuation of an online program not approved under the school’s charter.”

Four days later, on June 29, 2020, Utah Milirary Academy received a PPP loan of $1M – $2M.

Also according to KUTV.com, another Utah charter school, Frnaklin Discovery Academy, discussed on April 23, 2020, discussed “unexpected free money” at is board meeting (the school offers audio copies of its meetings by request):

“We unexpectedly got free money!” a voice exclaims. She goes on to say, “We would like to do a few fun things with it,” and “That particular bucket of money, we do need to somehow, remotely tie to expenses related to coronavirus.”

Earlier in the same meeting, a board member noted that the school was on stable ground financially: “Almost a million dollars in the bank. Doing really well financially, so.”

Two weeks prior to that board meeting, on April 09, 2020, Franklin Discovery Academy received a PPP loan in the amount of $100K – $350K.

Exploitation.

As NPE executive director, Carol Burris, observes in the July 27, 2020, Washington Post, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS) encouraged charter schools to apply for PPP loans– and NAPCS applied for its own PPP loan, as well:

The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools informed its members via email in March that it had successfully lobbied for charter schools to receive PPP funds and provided instructions on how such funding could be obtained. The blog that contained the contents of that email has been removed, but you can find it in the Internet archives here. Not only did the charter school alliance encourage its members to apply, but the organization received its own PPP forgivable loan in the range of $350,000 to $1 million.

On July 24, 2020, I posted about ProPublica’s PPP loan search engine, which allows the public to easily investigate PPP loans disbursed to any small business or nonprofit, including scores of charter schools, private schools, and other education-related businesses and nonprofits.

NPE’s comprehensive listing of charter schools, charter management orgs (CMOs), and education management orgs (EMOs) receiving PPP money adds to the public’s ability to investigate potential exploitation of PPP loans.

Check out NPE’s listing in your state, and consider whether you need to further invstigate some board meeting discussions surrounding the money.

PPP loans are meant to help small businesses and nonprofits negatively impacted by the coronavirus crisis.

PPP loans are not “free money” meant to “flush up our funds.”

Keep your eyes on the money, America. The last thing cheaters want is publicity.

money tree

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3 Comments
  1. Threatened Out West permalink

    I am SO glad that Utah’s charter schools are being put under a microscope, because there is SO much law and probably financial self-dealing that is almost never discussed. Many charter school boards have current or former state legislators, and Utahns even have to pay a separate property tax just for charter schools.

    Utah Military Academy (there is one near me, and we get a lot of students coming and going from there) is generally one of the lowest-ranked schools in the state, and the kids who come back from UMA are generally WAY behind their peers. And my school is at-risk, too, so our scores aren’t anything to celebrate, but the UMA kids are STILL way behind.

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