Charter schools, Domestic, Education Quality, Elementary / Primary / Junior, Friend, Fraud, or Fishy, High school / Secondary 2 - Written by Wired Academic on Wednesday, November 2, 2011 15:45 - 0 Comments
Investigation: Imagine schools’ real estate deals fuel company growth
Must read investigative report by Elisa Crouch for the Post Dispatch about the nation’s largest charter school company Imagine Schools Inc. shady dealings, low test scores and safety violations:
When students first entered Imagine Academy of Academic Success four years ago, their school was already entangled in a complex series of real estate deals — ones that would divert dollars from their education.
By the time they were on their first summer break, their brown brick building at 1409 East Linton Avenue had been sold three times, the final price nearly 10 times higher than the first. In the process, the company running the school — along with a small group of other players — cashed in.
Imagine Schools Inc., the nation’s largest charter school operator, runs six charter schools in St. Louis. Together, their performance on state standardized exams is worse than any school district in Missouri.
Nevertheless, those schools are generating millions of dollars for Imagine and a Kansas City-based real estate investment company through real estate arrangements ultimately supported with public education money.
The deals are part of a strategy that has fueled Imagine’s national expansion. In most cases, Imagine sells its buildings to another company that leases them back to Imagine, with the schools themselves shouldering the rent with public funds.
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