Charter of the Philly area, private schools receive millions in federal P3 loans
Dozens of private and charter schools across the region received millions of dollars in emergency federal loans during the pandemic, amid larger nationwide questions about who received the money and why.
Paycheck Protection Program loan recipients range from exclusive private schools on the mainline like Agnes Irwin and Baldwin Girls’ Schools, and George School in Newtown, where boarding fees exceed 63,000. $, at Independence Mission Schools, a network of Catholic schools in Philadelphia that laid off 180 teachers and staff this spring.
The list also includes charters such as Chester Community Charter, Franklin Towne Charter High School and Mastery Charters, whose funding flows from home school districts have not been disrupted by the coronavirus.
The charter loans drew immediate criticism, based on the schools’ status as publicly funded but independently managed organizations. Despite financial pressures brought on by the pandemic, school districts in Pennsylvania are forced to continue paying charters.
Donna Cooper, director of Public Citizens for Children and Youth, an education advocacy group, asked how schools justified the loans – which the candidates required to certify that the money was needed to support their operations, since they did not experience cuts in public funding.
The recipients were disclosed on Monday by the federal government. The disclosures, however, did not offer the exact amounts of the loans granted. Instead, the government gave loan ranges: $ 150,000 to $ 350,000; $ 350,000 to $ 1 million; $ 1 to $ 2 million; 2 to 5 million dollars; $ 5-10 million. The government also made loans under $ 150,000, but did not name the recipient entities.
The loans are forgivable if beneficiaries use the money to retain or rehire employees at the same wages.
Charter schools in the area have provided loans between $ 5 million and $ 10 million, including the Collegium Charter School in Exton and the Chester Community Charter, the state’s largest brick-and-mortar charter.
Max Tribble, spokesperson for CSMI – a company that runs the Chester Community Charter and has also received a federal loan – said the school had “very real concern about whether it would receive a payment from the Chester Upland School District. During the pandemic. He said the district recently failed to make a payment on time, and only did so later “in the face of threats of litigation.”
The neighborhood was controlled for years by a court-appointed receiver.
Loan data released on Monday shows Chester Community Charter – listed in documents as Archway Charter School of Chester – retained 479 jobs thanks to the loan. Pennsylvania has banned public schools from laying off employees in the 2019-20 school year due to the pandemic.
While Tribble has expressed concern about the Chester Upland District, the Chester Community Charter draws a significant number of students from Philadelphia.
Philadelphia District Financial Director Uri Monson commented on Twitter Tuesday that charter schools in Philadelphia receiving the loans were also “receiving all payments owed to them by the school district,” even as the district’s revenues declined by over $ 50 million. “A new approach to double dipping”, Monson said.
Other charters have given loans, including the Mastery Charter Network, which has received $ 5.2 million for its Camden schools. Kerry Woodward, deputy head of institutional advancement for the network – which also operates schools in Philadelphia – said he had applied for the loan “on the cusp of a new budget year for the school, when the Gov. Phil Murphy predicted possible “Armageddon” budget cuts. “
“This loan has enabled us to protect jobs today and into the future as we prepare for the possibility of further cuts to school funding,” said Woodward. “With any financial decision we make, our first priority is to continue to provide a high quality public school option to students in our community. “
In Philadelphia, Franklin Towne Charter High School in Bridesburg received a loan of between $ 2 million and $ 5 million, as did Esperanza Academy Charter in North Philadelphia. Two cyber charters – Pennsylvania Leadership Charter and Pennsylvania Virtual Charter – have also received loans from this range.
Many private schools in the area have also received loans, ranging from boarding and day schools to diocesan and parish schools. Nationally, some private schools with high price tags having taken heat to seek federal help.
Gary Niels, executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of Independent Schools, said schools “want to pay their teachers competitive salaries and benefits” and don’t know how many enrollments will be for the school year. 2020-21.
“Schools that applied for a P3 loan were looking to the government to help them offset any potential loss of enrollment that would result in reductions in teachers and support staff,” Niels said.
Private schools receiving between $ 2 million and $ 5 million included schools like Friends Select, Germantown Friends and Agnes Irwin – which school principal Sally Keidel said “was not immune to the enormous uncertainty that COVID-19 has brought to communities across the US “
“In addition to our role as an educational institution, we are a small business in the region,” Keidel said. “We have a responsibility to take all available steps to navigate this uncertain future financially and protect our teachers and staff and their invaluable contribution to our community.”
The Independence Mission Schools of Philadelphia also received between $ 2 million and $ 5 million. Bruce Robinson, CEO of the network, which operates 15 Catholic elementary schools, said in May that the network had applied for a federal loan and planned to rehire dismissed employees.
Private schools receiving loans totaling $ 1 million to $ 2 million included the Académie de Notre-Dame de Namur in Radnor, the Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy in Bryn Mawr, the St. Joseph’s Preparatory School and the School of Philadelphia.
And dozens of other schools have received smaller loans, between $ 150,000 and $ 1 million. Among them are schools run by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia – such as Archbishop John Carroll High in Radnor, Bishop Shanahan High in Downingtown, and Saints John Neumann and Maria Goretti High in South Philadelphia – who said they requested the loans with parishes, schools, and social service agencies.
Spokesman Ken Gavin on Tuesday declined to provide details of the loans, but said the money was being used for “the continued employment of individuals, ensuring schools operate without disruption and continuing to provide human services. vital to some of the most vulnerable and at risk. , and the needy segments of the population in the greater Philadelphia area, which has five counties. “