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Posted by madfloridian in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Sun May 09th 2010, 01:24 PM
Hat tip to the Schools Matter blog for posting the great article from the St. Pete Times.

The Imagine Schools "Death Spiral"

Guess which charter school chain is behind this little scheme:

"An F-rated St. Petersburg charter school stands on the verge of collapse, mired in debt and losing enrollment. And most of those debts — around $1 million in public tax dollars — are owed to the same private company that founded it."

No, this isn't Chris Whittle's newest invention, this is the corrupt fools at Imagine. It's not a surprise - heck, this is practically the blueprint for Imagine's business plan. The snippet above is from Tom Marshall's article on Imagine that appeared in today's St. Petersburg Times. Do check it out.

Do not miss this article at the St. Pete Times. When you start mixing public and private money and having public schools run by outside companies without the usual regulations....anything can happen. It is not just Imagine Charters that should be alarming us.

As St. Petersburg school founders, districts question Imagine Schools' status

CHERIE DIEZ | Times The Imagine Charter School on Central Avenue in St. Petersburg is mired in debt and losing students

An F-rated St. Petersburg charter school stands on the verge of collapse, mired in debt and losing enrollment. And most of those debts — around $1 million in public tax dollars — are owed to the same private company that founded it.

Pinellas County district officials say they're battling with Virginia-based Imagine Schools, the nation's largest commercial charter operator, over the future of the Central Avenue school. The school was $963,572 in deficit last spring, according to auditors. It's paying $881,179 to lease a half-empty building from Imagine's real estate affiliate, plus thousands more for equipment, administration and fees, on income of just $2 million a year.

"It's a death spiral," said district charter supervisor Dot Clark.

Pinellas officials are now joining districts across Florida — including Hillsborough and Pasco — in raising doubts about whether the company is running its schools as nonprofits, as required by state law.

..."Still, Imagine has yet to receive the nonprofit status it has sought from the IRS since 2005, and school officials in Texas, Georgia, Nevada and Indiana — as well as Alachua, Indian River and Palm Beach counties in Florida — have challenged the company's applications."

There are other Imagine Charters in trouble, magnifying the role of the taxpayer in paying the debts owed to Dennis and Eileen Bakke who founded the schools.

Two Florida charter schools in financial crisis. Taxpayer money is paying their debt.

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.

There are many Democrats who still swallow the line about "bad" public school teachers and "bad" public schools. Sometimes I wonder if owing a couple of million in taxes to a private company with no oversight will wake them up.

I doubt it. I think it is the plan of this administration to privatize public education.

Schools Matter blog pointed out the other day that Imagine Charters in Virginia are listed as both profit and non-profit.

That's really interesting.

Imagine has registered both a non-profit and a for-profit company in Virginia. That's likely what makes their application a trailblazer, if you want to call it that. Below are snapshots of the annual reports for both Imagine Schools, Inc and Imagine Schools Non-Profit, Inc.

The images are at the link.

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