As real public schools desperately search for money to operate in the pandemic, charter school — privately run schools operated with public tax money and waivers from state rules governing real public schools — got helped by federal Paycheck Protection Program money.

Unearthed so far are loans (convertible to grants) to nine schools that show total lending of an amount somewhere between $4.6 and $11.4 million. These are drawn from the SBA database of Arkansas recipients of more than $150,000.

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UPDATE: An emal from Mary Ley, CEO of the Arkansas Arts Academy says:

We did receive the funding and when we found out it would take away from other small businesses we gave our funding back.

PPP money for charter schools has been a subject of some debate. The Washington Post reported on it here.

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Some took the money. As here. But, the Post reported:

But some charter schools that chose not to apply for PPP money said that source of funding was not meant for charter schools but instead for small businesses and small nonprofits that had been crippled during the pandemic. Because public school funding had not stopped, charters shouldn’t be included in PPP, they said.

 

After the Cares Act was passed, superintendents of traditional school districts said the aid was nowhere near enough to cover the costs sustained in moving education online during the coronavirus pandemic, and the costs of preparing to reopen schools in the fall. They have asked Congress for some $250 billion in the next aid package, which would, again, include school districts and charter schools.

When the Post reported this story in May, many local charter schools in D.C. didn’t want to reveal if they’d gotten the money. The public release of loans this week allowed a closer look.

That Post article noted that elite private schools also got money in the D.C. area. Arkansas, too. Here’s at least a partial list of at least $5 million-plus in government money.

You can search for others here.

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