"The charter school movement in Los Angeles received a $23.3 million boost today from The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation through new grants to three leading charter school organizations: KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program), Aspire Public Schools and Pacific Charter School Development, Inc. These grants bring the total Broad Foundation investment in Los Angeles charters -- that will serve 25,000 total students -- to $56 million since 2000."
So in less than 10 years, the Broad Foundation has pumped $56M into charters in L.A.
"High-quality public charter schools in Los Angeles are showing dramatic results in improving student achievement, and we need to do what we can to make sure the best models are available to as many students as possible," said Eli Broad, founder of The Broad (rhymes with "road") Foundation. "Successful charter schools, like KIPP and Aspire Public Schools, have already set the platinum standard in education in Los Angeles, and developers like Pacific Charter School Development are enabling these schools to use their resources for students rather than facilities."
"Pacific Charter School Development, Inc. will receive a $6 million interest-free loan to leverage more than $30 million in project financing to create more than 6,000 new, state-of-the-art campus seats in Los Angeles' most underserved neighborhoods in the next 10 years. PCSD will also receive $333,000 for operations."
Ah, and who is Pacific Charter School Development? A non-profit real estate organization. Who helped them get started?
"NewSchools Venture Fund was instrumental in providing the seed capital and expertise required to establish the organization. Since PCSD’s inception, NewSchools has been joined by The Broad Foundation, The Walton Family Foundation, and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as providers of project equity. Operational support has been provided by these same organizations along with the Pisces Foundation, The Ahmanson Foundation, and The Weingart Foundation."
If you are keeping up with the charter push, these are the major players as far as foundations are concerned.
And PCSD's clients are:
- Alliance for College-Ready Public Schools
- Aspire Public Schools
- Green Dot Public Schools
- Inner City Education Foundation
- KIPP LA
- Partnership to Uplift Communities
How does PCSD help?
"Our main goal is to eliminate charter school operators’ need to be involved in facility work so they can focus on teaching children. For this to occur, we serve as a nonprofit developer and benevolent landlord, leasing campuses to high-quality charter schools.
PCSD pursues an effective “fill-in” strategy compared with the massive, slowly developed, district-built options. PCSD’s model is to retrofit existing buildings for use as future schools. We target buildings between 40,000 and 80,000 square feet on three- to five-acre parcels. We also do ground-up construction when the opportunity to do presents itself.
Our business model uses a combination of philanthropic equity, debt provided by socially-conscious lenders and credit enhancements from federal, state and local guarantors. We use this funding to finance the campuses we build at a cost of capital far below that available to charter schooloperators. We pass this economic savings on to the charter schools through below market rents, including furniture, fixtures and equipment."
Benevolent landlord, you have to love that.
I have to say as someone who is interested in capital issues, I wonder if they do better at fixing up buildings at a lower cost than, say, our district. Also, that "below market rents" is a huge thing for a charter school along with the necessary goods.
Their "value proposition"?
"Our value proposition is:
- To provide successful charter school entrepreneurs with high-quality, low-cost facility options, especially during their first years of operations
- To provide lenders with a less risky alternative to individual charter school financing
- To provide foundations a way to accelerate the growth of high-quality charter schools to change the face of public education"
So now LA is giving up 250 schools so that charters can take over and with PCSD, it looks like it's full steam ahead.
Do you hear that train coming? It's building up steam as we speak. And so, when I see the list of alternative schools listed, both on the most recent SPS home calendar AND the SPS website, grow smaller, I have to wonder what is coming. Yes, we still have our alternatives but they seem to be somewhat swept under the carpet otherwise, why are they not noted on the calendar and the website as alternatives? I think alternative school parents have very, very good reasons to worry. But don't worry; at this rate, you can always reopen as a charter later on.