Publicly funded constitution colleges in San Diego County have acquired greater than $15.eight million by the Paycheck Safety Program (PPP,) a federal authorities fund aimed toward serving to small companies from shutting down through the coronavirus pandemic.
A number of the recipients embrace massive constitution college corporations with campuses all through California reminiscent of Learn4Life, and Magnolia Public Faculties are amongst people who acquired tens of millions in PPP loans.
Constitution colleges have traditionally straddled a tremendous line with regards to whether or not they’re thought-about public colleges or personal companies. Nevertheless, that distinction, not less than by way of public funding through the coronavirus pandemic, seems to be extra clearly outlined.
In line with the information obtained by NBC 7 Investigates, native constitution colleges together with Gompers Preparatory, The Faculty for Entrepreneurship and Expertise (SET), E3 Civic Excessive, and Magnolia Science Academy have acquired $3.1 million in CARES Act funding from the federal authorities which is supposed for public colleges. Of these, Gompers Prep secured essentially the most CARES Act funding, receiving $408,364 in CARES Act funding whereas the varsity additionally raked in $2.25 million in PPP loans.
Along with federal training funding below the CARES Act, greater than a dozen constitution colleges in San Diego County have utilized for PPP loans with 9 colleges to this point already having acquired the funds.
These loans vary from $50,135 acquired by Kidinnu Academy in El Cajon, which has an enrollment of 115 college students from TK by fifth Grade, to $5.6 million in loans that went to Magnolia Public Faculties, which operates two constitution colleges in San Diego County and a number of other different campuses statewide.
It’s the truth that constitution colleges can obtain each public funds from the federal government in addition to choosing loans meant to maintain small companies afloat in occasions of the pandemic that has some coverage consultants involved.
Clare Crawford is a Senior Coverage Advisor for public advocacy analysis group, Within the Public Curiosity.
Crawford and her group lately found that constitution colleges in Oakland acquired $20 million in PPP loans and now Crawford is constitution colleges in San Diego County in addition to all through California.
“We’ve basically been looking at board documents, posted agendas, and meeting minutes for charter schools for charter schools to find out which charter schools applied for and received these small business loans,” mentioned Crawford.
“All schools need more funding right now because they’re dealing with a lot of uncertainty,” mentioned Crawford. “But, there’s been funding for public schools to keep people employed. Charter schools, however, are tapping into public funds while at the same time are applying for loans that were intended for small businesses and nonprofits that don’t have that same continuation of funding.”
Added Crawford, “There are businesses and families in the community that need those funds to keep people employed, many of whom are parents of kids going to these schools and they’re struggling. Charter schools are already getting public dollars from the state while also dipping into this money.”
However the $15.eight million in loans will seemingly enhance as tons of of native small companies have been denied cash below the Paycheck Safety Program, or by no means acquired any form of response from the Small Enterprise Administration, leading to some companies having needed to lower employees positions or shut completely.
In line with board paperwork reviewed by NBC 7, a number of different constitution college corporations together with Encourage have additionally utilized for tens of millions in PPP loans. These colleges haven’t but confirmed whether or not their purposes have been accredited and if they acquired the cash.
Crawford mentioned her group discovered that all through the state, Encourage has utilized for greater than $30 million in PPP loans since March of this 12 months.
“Inspire believes their overarching entity doesn’t qualify for PPP loans but we’ve documented school-by-school that they have applied for over $30 million in PPP loans in California,” Crawford mentioned.
In October 2019, state officers launched an investigation into Encourage colleges in San Diego, Kern, and Placer counties amid stories that the district had misused public funding.
NBC 7 Investigates reached out to Encourage for remark however didn’t hear again.
These most educated about constitution colleges say the colleges have an uphill battle with regards to public funding. The financial downturn that COVID-19 unleashed solely made issues worse.
“When it comes to helping kids, nonprofit charter schools should not be shamed when asking for a federal loan to remain financially solvent during a national emergency and should not have to apologize for doing what is needed to help the students they serve and the staff they employ,” mentioned Luis Vizcaino from the California Constitution Faculties Affiliation.
Vizcaino says constitution colleges have performed a vital function in ensuring the communities they serve are taken care of, whether or not which means meals for low-income households or laptops and different college provides for college students with disabilities.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all sectors including nonprofit charter schools that are publicly funded. Unlike district schools, charter public schools have limited resources. Unlike traditional district public schools, charter schools are unable to tax local residents to increase funding for school services or facilities. They also do not have access to low-cost loan and financing options that are available to traditional public schools,” mentioned Vizcaino.
A spokesperson for Learn4Life Constitution Faculties mentioned its San Diego Workforce Innovation Excessive Faculty, a non-profit constitution that works with at-risk college students, has but to obtain any public funding and wanted the PPP loan to assist pay its 216 staffers.
“We do not take any federal funding to operate our schools,” mentioned the spokesperson. “We didn’t declare any reduction from the CARES Act. We generally have to entry hole funding to keep up cash circulation and proceed serving college students, particularly as we go into the subsequent college 12 months with cuts to training and deferrals.Now we have not laid off any staff through the pandemic and we now have began transitioning our college students again to on-site studying.
In the meantime, Crawford and Within the Public Curiosity will proceed to go looking constitution college board assembly paperwork to trace simply how a lot charters all through California are receiving in PPP loans.
“We’ve seen GoFundMe pages for families whose businesses are shutting down because of the stay at home order,” mentioned Crawford. “This is not a critique of charter schools. This is money that people, small businesses, need. This money was intended for, for those folks. So, it’s hard to not understand the impact that taking this money has on those folks in the community.”