D.C. charter schools set bad example by taking PPP funds

Despite my recommendation that charter schools in the District forgo applying for Paycheck Protection Program money from the federal government, the Washington Post’s Perry Stein reveals today that “more than 25 charters have applied for and received these dollars, some getting cash in the two to five million dollar range. Below is a list of twenty eight charters, as tweeted by Will Perkins, that apparently obtained PPP received loans, which under the plan can be converted to grants. Mr. Perkins is an analyst at the Office of the DC Auditor.

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The charter schools join a list of prominent private schools in our area such as Sidwell Friends, Lowell School, Georgetown Preparatory, the Field School, the Edwin Burke School, and Gonzaga College High School that also accepted the funding.

According to Ms. Stein, charter and private schools justify their awards by stating that “they are legally entitled to the money and that it is a necessary infusion, with private donations drying up and enrollment numbers unclear for the next academic year. They need the money, they said, to ensure they can keep all of their employees on their payrolls.”

Shannon Hodge, the newly appointed executive director of the DC Charter School Alliance, defended the actions of the school’s she represents this way, according to the Post reporter:

“We know that costs will go up, but more importantly, there are lots of things that are unknown. . . . This program allows them to bring some stability to this uncertain situation.”

Kingsman Academy PCS, the school where Ms. Hodge recently resigned as executive director, on the table above is in the three hundred and fifty thousand to one million dollar range for government assistance.

With all of the discombobulation going on out there right now, revenue for charter schools is perhaps one of the only areas where stability actually exists. The D.C. Council recently recommended a three percent increase in the Uniform Per Student Funding Formula for the 2021 fiscal year. In addition, the charter school per pupil facility allotment is slated to go up.

As I drive to work everyday during the week and see all of the businesses that are closed, I think about all of the people now without jobs. My own family has been impacted by the pandemic. To me, taking these extremely limited PPE dollars away from those who are trying to figure out how to put food on the table is nothing less than disgusting.

I wish to thank the many charters that decided to do the right thing.

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