14 May 2018

Arizona Corporate-Owned Public Charter Schools Getting Some Heat For All The Right Reasons

Here's just a start on some of the heat generated by the release of findings for all charter schools last month. 
According to an Arizona Republic analysis of data from the state charter board,  Charter operators representing 138 of the state's 538 charter schools showed financial warning signs in the 2016-17 school year.
"These schools' operators failed three of four quantifiable measures reported in their financial performance dashboards, which rate charters' financial health using metrics including how much cash they have on hand and whether they made more money than they spent.
Charter holders of 62 schools failed all four measures, including 18 schools run by Edkey Inc. that lost a total of $2.6 million last year. . .
Let's stop right there and put EdKey into a hyper-local political perspective to show you, dear readers, the close association of politicians and education here in Mesa when aspiring candidate Jerry Lewis (a good friend of John Giles) campaigned for election in 2016 to the Mesa City Council in District 3 was immediately endorsed by both the current mayor John Giles and former mayor Scott Smith at the same time he declared his candidacy - he runs Sequoia Charter Schools that are owned by EdKey). At one episode in his unsuccessful campaign, at the invitation of the mayor to appear in front of the Mesa City Council meeting, he introduced himself as "a businessman".
So too does another Mesa politician calls himself "a businessman" who's amassed a personal fortune - AZ Senator Bob Worsley, who's the champion of taxpayer-funded vouchers to pay for what's called "Parental Choice" in public education that pays for charter schools. Recently, he came out publicly as a private real estate speculator here in downtown, gambling and betting what he says is $20 million dollars at the same time holding an elected public.
Here's more of the analysis that was published on 09 May:
Analysis: 1 in 4 charters shows significant financial red flags
, The Republic | azcentral.com Published 6:00 a.m. MT May 9, 2018
Updated 4:59 p.m. MT May 11, 2018
" . . . Edkey's schools were among 41  that fell far below the standard of "going concern," meaning there was indication that they could close within a year because of their finances, according to The Republic's analysis of financial audits submitted to the State Board for Charter Schools. . .
More schools show financial issues: In March, The Republic published the initial findings from an analysis of charter school financial performance data, but the reports for operators of 84 schools hadn't been made public or submitted. The final reports, with the 84 schools included, were released last month. . .   
BASIS Schools, Inc., which operates 18 schools in Arizona, failed two of the four quantifiable measures, including showing a $9.2 million loss last year.
BASIS Executive Director DeAnna Rowe said in an email that the school refinanced some debt, contributing to the appearance that it lost money.  
Not all charter chains fell below the standards. . .
The updated findings also showed that:
  • Charter holders for 142 schools (26 percent) failed the board's expectation for cash reserves; holders for 48 fell far below this standard.
  • Charter holders for 221 schools (41 percent) lost money in the 2016-17 school year.
  • Charter holders for 230 (43 percent) had obligations that were too high relative to their income.
  • The majority of holders are mostly financially in the black. Operators of more than 316 charter schools (59 percent) met three or more of the standards
Blogger Note: the reviews, which are accessible online, aim to provide the public some transparency into charter finances and to "improve the financial health" of the state's charter-school sector.
READ MORE > Arizona Republic's Analysis 

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