Why do you suppose that school buildings owned by Academica, Florida’s largest for-profit charter management firm are more expensive than at schools it only manages? Are they bigger and nicer or just more profitable?
In The Public Interest (ITPI) publishes some revealing data about charter school management. The average rent charged to charters housed in Academica owned facilities was 17.7%. Rent at other charters only managed by Academica but owned by others was 11.5%. Even more concerning is that Academica controls $115 million in south Florida real estate all of which is exempt from property taxes. The money to pay those leases, ironically, comes from residents’ local property taxes that fund public schools.
In 2012-13, Academica managed 57 of Miami Dade’s 108 charter schools and rented property to 24 of them. The difference resulted in $4.1 million per year over what the other charters paid. ITPI argues that these rental contracts should be submitted to a public oversight board before they are signed. Currently, the cost of the leases is revealed only a year afterwards when the annual audits are released.
The Academica real estate transactions were published in a letter to the California Board of Education in response to Academica’s application to charter two schools. ITPI reported the scandals and federal investigations of Academica’s business practices. The ITPI is a national research and policy center funded by the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations as well as a number of other public interest foundations. It was created in 2006.