From Brian Brandel in South Florida Business Journal:
Charter Schools USA, one of the largest for-profit operators of charter schools in the nation, qualified for public incentives to expand its Fort Lauderdale headquarters.
The company could earn $365,000 from the state and the city through the Qualified Target Industry (QTI) program should it create 73 jobs at an average salary of $60,000 as well as retain its existing 188 Florida jobs. The company pledged to invest $1.3 million in capital as it relocates its office to 43,000 square feet at 800 Corporate Drive.
It takes more than 20 years for a Florida public school teacher to reach $60,000 in salary. It’s clear that taxpayer money is expanding CSUSA’s middle management and isn’t going into the classroom. Such is the new normal of education reform.
Meanwhile, Florida governor Rick Scott wants even more corporate welfare for his charter school cronies who are reliable campaign contributors to republicans. The Associated Press reports that Scott wants $100 million for charter school construction.
Charter Schools USA and its CEO Jonathan Hage are doing quite well. So well, in fact, they don’t want anyone to know how well. CSUSA is in the process of winning a contract to take over a Pennsylvania school district. The local newspaper is having trouble getting details. Writes Erin James in the York Dispatch:
While the initial contract proposed to the school board in November was released to the public, no subsequent documentation has outlined the company’s plans for York City.
Representatives from The York Dispatch and Charter Schools USA had agreed to meet Dec. 16, but the company canceled that meeting due to illness.
Unanswered questions: Instead, the company asked the newspaper to submit written questions. The York Dispatch submitted 36 questions the same afternoon.
Of those 36 questions posed to Charter Schools USA, a dozen remain unanswered a month later.
Those questions include the following: Will Charter Schools USA allow employees to unionize? How much does the average teacher make at a school operated by Charter Schools USA? What is CEO Jonathan Hage’s annual salary? How much profit does Charter Schools USA expect to make on the York City contract?
The Dispatch recently reiterated those questions to the company.
“Due to the current status of contract negotiations, Charter Schools USA will not be visiting our market for one-on-one media interviews until more information is known regarding the future of a potential contract in York,” Kernan wrote in response. “Should the situation change indicating potential movement on the contract, Charter Schools USA will welcome face-to-face interviews regarding the students of the York City School District. Charter Schools USA continues to be focused on providing educational opportunities for students.”
Kernan said Charter Schools USA would also decline phone or email interview requests
It’s called stonewalling and CSUSA has done it before. In 2013, it refused to answer questions from Tampa Tribune reporter William March about its relationship with former Florida governor Jeb Bush.
The Florida republican political cabal usually bristles when criticism of for-profit charter schools like CSUSA emerges. And while the insist upon transparency of state public schools, they’ll knock down walls to run interference for Hage. He’s been a cash cow after all.