Indiana

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Lawmakers Consider Loan Forgiveness For Shuttered Ball State Charters

Charter School of the Dunes students listen to a math lesson.

The Associated Press reports Indiana lawmakers might forgive $12 million in loans to struggling charter schools no longer authorized by Ball State:

The Indiana Department of Education loaned roughly $12.9 million to eight charter schools to help with startup costs, and they still owe $12 million to the state, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press. Seven whose charters were revoked by Ball State University in January would be absolved of payments, along with another school which did not seek to renew its charter.

“Why did they get their charter revoked?” asked Senate Appropriations Chairman Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville. “If they were (educating students) and it was a good faith effort and they were in good standing at that time, maybe it should be paid for them.”

The Senate has budgeted roughly $80 million to repay loans taken out by a range of charter schools, many of them performing well by state standards. The goal of the loan program was to put charter schools on equal footing with public schools. Because charter schools operate on a calendar year — unlike the state budget — each one started out having to find six months’ worth of operational money, which the state answered with loans, Kenley said Monday.

“So what we’re doing is funding what we should have funded when we first started this exercise,” he said. But he added that fiscal analysts are working fast to determine if the revoked charters should share in that benefit.

Because charter schools are public schools, the loans come from the same fund that helps traditional school corporations. Advocates argue if school districts have to pay back the state, so should charters.

At least one of the schools facing closure, Charter School of the Dunes in Gary, has found a new sponsor — Calumet College. The others are appealing their charter revocation or seeking another authorizer.

To one commenter on the “Northeast Indiana Friends of Public Education” Facebook page, the loan forgiveness plan sounds like a “bailout.” Do you agree with her? Or is Kenley right in asking for assistance for a school that made “a good faith effort”? Let us know in the comments.

Comments

  • Karynb9

    Since when do “good faith efforts” get acknowledged for non-charter schools? I imagine that the teachers and administrators in the schools taken over by the state made “good faith efforts” to educate students. No one cared. “Perform or suffer the consequences” is the rule other public schools have to live by in this state.

  • IndyParent

    Have loans been forgiven for other charter schools that have been closed by Ball state or the Indianapolis Mayor’s office (such as The Indianapolis Project School, which was closed on far shorter notice than these schools). Or is forgiveness being considered here solely because Imagine with three schools involved is a for profit business?

  • IndyGal

    What choice does the state have when a school closes, other than to write off the debt? They’re closed – usually for financial reasons. Because they’ve been closed, there is no further revenue coming into the school. Of course they wouldn’t be able to repay the loan. A ‘loan’ – by the way – they had to take out to educate public school children for six months, with no assistance from the state. Write it all off and put these schools on equal footing.

  • jsped

    Some of the managing entities of these Charter schools are for-profit entities and make money off public funds. Yes they should have to pay back the funds

  • girlcousin

    Why of COURSE they should forgive these loans. The whole point of the exercise is to ‘starve the beast’ of public education. And charters are the ‘gateway drug’ to private schools. Want to see where we are going? Check out Louisiana. So, yes, since the goal is to fritter away the public school budget into private hands for private gain, paying charter schools to fail is a win win! Thank you, Betsy DeVos!

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