While it is illegal to run for-profit charter schools, Charter School USA and other corporations like them get around this law by creating dummy non-profit entities that contract with for-profit corporations. CSUSA charges high management fees and excessive lease payments. In addition, it has its own affiliated companies to buy and lease school facilities, sell instructional materials like books or other school services. It uses a complex scheme of payments and money transfers. Their profits are concealed from public scrutiny.
Local school districts and parents have no say in the of the day-to-day operations of charters. Districts see summary financial statements. They have no jurisdiction over charter personnel or management. If there is a problem with the principal, parents go to the charter board whose members live in other cities miles from Gainesville. If parents are unhappy, the common refrain is: You are free to remove your child from the school.
The National Association of Public Charter Schools reports “Despite consistent growth by charter schools in Florida, the schools have lagged on quality, diversity and innovation”. The CSUSA school proposal admits: Achievement among CSUSA schools that serve a student population similar to ACS’s projected demographic is, on average, lower than both the state and Alachua County’s net average proficiency in math, science and social studies. Palm Beach Schools filed suit against CSUSA for not being innovative.
If approved the plan will remove an estimated $78 million from our traditional public schools every decade, with funds of approximately $6,335 per student going to CSUSA for 1,145 students, with an additional $618,000 per year in capital outlay funds for facilities that must be shared with CSUSA. Our district funds are already low, and there is a long list of unfunded projects.
As a for-profit charter school, CSUSA may take actions seen as beneficial to them, with no protection for parents. They are exempt from requiring an evidentiary hearing in expelling students. They also shut down, sometimes mid-year, if they don’t prove to be profitable. As a parent, there’s no protection from this for you or your child.
Charter schools like CSUSA further segregate communities, pulling Blacks, Whites, and Hispanic students further apart. By either focusing on high income or low income students they increase segregation. They also disproportionately expel students of color.
"A major financial miscalculation led to the closures of two charter schools governed by the city of Palm Bay in Brevard County. The city, working in conjunction with for-profit management company Charter Schools USA, issued $21 million in bonds to pay for a facility for the schools. But after five years, the city hadn’t even paid down $1 million of its debt, prompting the school closure and displacement of nearly 750 students. Bondholders were left holding the bag."
"Charter Schools USA collected $1 million out of about $8 million in tax revenue that went to Henderson Hammock Charter School, according to a 2016 state audit. More than $1 million more was used to pay the school's mortgage."
"District leaders said the school, which is operated by the Southwest Charter Foundation Inc. governing board under Charter Schools USA, was failing to meet the educational and administrative agreements between the district and the charter."
"The Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted this past week to close Baton Rouge Charter Academy in Mid-City, which opened in August 2013. With 676 students, it’s one of the largest charter schools in town. Those students will now have to find new schools next year."