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Posted by madfloridian in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Mon Mar 08th 2010, 10:03 PM
That means public money in Florida is going to a private company in Virginia called Imagine Schools.

That is taxpayer money profiting an Educational Management Company instead of funding public schools.

Two charter schools in fiscal trouble

Two popular Imagine charter schools in Manatee County incurred debts of nearly $900,000 and have been declared in a state of “financial emergency” by the school district.

An audit of Imagine School at Lakewood Ranch revealed debts of about $600,000 at the end of its first year. Most of that is owed to its parent company, Imagine Schools, a Virginia-based school management company that runs 74 charter schools in 12 states.

The Imagine School North Manatee’s debts were about $300,000 as at June 30, most of that also owed to Imagine Schools.

The debt is unlikely to lead to the closure of either school, but it does mean taxpayer money will be used by the schools to pay debts to their parent company that could include as much as $350,000 in interest.Charter schools are run by private boards but receive state tax money on a per-student basis.

From a 2005 article regarding these same charter schools we find that they were in financial trouble back then. And still opening more schools in Florida, with taxpayers picking up the tab.

Despite Debt, School Firm Aims to Open More Charters

Posted on: Monday, 17 October 2005, 03:01 CDT

By MICHAEL C. BENDER Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

With its 12 Florida schools already combining for more than $8.3 million in debt, one of the largest charter school companies in the country is looking to open at least nine more in the state this year, including one each in Palm Beach and Martin counties.

"There are times when you need to push for development, and now is one of those times," said Rod Sasse, director of development for Imagine Schools Inc. "Some of our schools that have been with us for a while are going out on their own now. And we just have to continue our development stream."

They are pushing for development with taxpayer money, which will profit their Virginia based EMO. They have had other problems, but they are allowed to keep growing here.

In Florida, only two charter schools managed by Imagine Schools have gone "out on their own" in the past three years, according to state and local records. The Central Florida town of Oakland took over Oakland Avenue Charter on Oct. 1 after the school received a D from the state this year. The North Tampa Alternative Charter was turned over to the school district in 2003 after several years of financial troubles. Nationally, however, two dozen Imagine-managed schools have either shut down or cut ties with the company, according to an annual Arizona State University report. Just one other charter school company has lost more during that time.

"We've got a whole list of questions for them," said Hank Salzler, Martin assistant schools superintendent. "Their finances are going to be a big deal for us."

That same article from 2005 pointed out that the money will come from taxpayers. Few seem to be noticing.

Charter schools, which are privately run schools financed largely with public taxes, were created in Florida in 1997 to provide Florida students with "innovative learning opportunities" and give parents a tuition-free option aside from public schools. While the program has been popular with parents - nearly 100,000 students enrolled in charter schools this year, up from 82,000 last year - critics say the system siphons money from school districts that cannot pick and choose their students.

They should not call it tuition free if the tab is being paid by the taxpayers.

A comment from the blog Schools Matter on the founder of these schools, Dennis Bakke.

Those are tax dollars at work paying $350,000 in interest - and working their way right into the bank accounts of the Imagine crooks. Dennis Bakke likes to rail against the "government-run monopoly" of public education, but the his operation is far less efficient than traditional public schools. Bakke, of course, prefers the privatized version of public schools, particularly when they are a potential profit source for his education empire.

Bakke is the author of Joy at Work. He and his wife are members of The Fellowship, and are involved in the anti-union movement.

When Clinton first came to Washington in 1993, one of her first steps was to join a Bible study group. For the next eight years, she regularly met with a Christian "cell" whose members included Susan Baker, wife of Bush consigliere James Baker; Joanne Kemp, wife of conservative icon Jack Kemp; Eileen Bakke, wife of Dennis Bakke, a leader in the anti-union Christian management movement; and Grace Nelson, the wife of Senator Bill Nelson, a conservative Florida Democrat.

A further outrage to me is that Bakke considers public schools a "monopoly". His statements are very threatening to public education.

Q: What is so broken within our public school system that charter schools stand a chance of fixing it?

Bakke: The major problem with our government-operated public schools is best understood by comparing the government monopolies that operate public elementary and secondary schools in this nation and our public university systems. The latter are considered among the best in the world. The former are generally considered very low on the quality scale. The major difference between these two education systems is that our elementary and secondary schools are government monopolies, while our colleges and universities compete for students. Students are assigned to most public K-12 schools and there is no significant competition for these students. The national result of monopolies in the private sector and the public sector is poor performance. Without the requirement to compete for students, there is little incentive for creativity, innovation, and the hard work or the long hours required to educate students and involve parents. Unlike the monopoly government schools, which exist whether parents like the schools’ performance or not, only “good” charter schools that can attract students can survive.

What a misleading statement. His schools are surviving in spite of the schools debt so the parent company can make a profit.

They are surviving because we the taxpayers are footing the bill.
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