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November 12, 2020
          
CHARTER SCHOOL SUPPORTERS MAINTAIN CONTROL OF LAUSD BOARD 
After Millions Spent -- Outcome is a Draw
The titans of Los Angeles school politics — charter-school advocates and the teachers union (UTLA)— fought to an expensive draw in last week’s election. There were two races on the ballot for the Los Angeles Unified School District Board (LAUSD). The board’s current makeup meant UTLA needed to win two seats, while charter supported candidates needed to win just one to gain control. Each side won one seat, so for now, charter school supporters are in the driver’s seat on the board.  As of the end of October, outside groups spent more than $15 million this election cycle on LAUSD.

Voters living within LAUSD boundaries also overwhelmingly passed Measure RR, a facilities bond that will provide $7 billion for campus repairs, modernization and technology. Charter schools are included in the bond package, which is the first major initiative of its kind since 2008. Staff, Measure RR Looks Likely to Pass as Los Angeles School Board Results Come In, WatchOurCity.com, November 4. 2020

MORE ELECTION ROUNDUP
A Win in Arizona  
 Voters passed Proposition 208, which will enact an additional income tax for Arizona’s high-earners. All of the money will go to public and charter schools. Creators of the initiative estimated that it could bring in $940 million for schools every year.

A Win in Michigan 
Thanks to a law passed in 2018, Michigan charter schools are finally entitled to their share of millage tax revenue. Voters approved one last week in Wayne County (Detroit). It will send about $90 million per year to schools in Wayne County beginning in 2022.

A Win in Colorado 
Three Durango charter schools will each receive $2.5 million, as voters approved a $90 million bond issue that provides for funding for traditional district schools and public charter schools.

                       
THE MARKET IS EVOLVING ON CONTINUING DISCLOSURE

Helping the Charter School Investment Community Keep Up in the "New Normal" 
If you financed or invested in a school building with charter school bonds, or are seeking funding for a facility, you might want to invest some time in understanding the type of continuing disclosure lenders expect in this time of uncertainty. Tressa Pankovits, the Emmy-winning author of Charter School Investor and Associate Director of Reinventing America’s Schools, is this week's featured speaker. Click here to get her perspective on how policy changes and the effects of COVID and distance learning are affecting the charter school markets. Tressa’s report comes from the Nation’s Capitol as part of the “School Improvement Partnership News Hour: News You Can Use.

           
NEW RULE. . . NEW LEGAL BATTLEFRONT

But, for How Long?
U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has announced she will no longer prohibit religiously affiliated schools from receiving federal charter school grants. The decision comes in the wake of a recent Supreme Court ruling that held states can’t bar religiously-affiliated schools from receiving public support available to non-religious private schools. The Court’s decision did not articulate whether or not a charter school can provide religious instruction, it only holds that they may be run by a religious organization. Matt Barnum, DeVos Will let Religious Groups Apply for Charter Grants, Opening Up New Legal Battlefront, Chalkbeat, October 29, 2020
COSTLY SETTLEMENT
Charter Management Organization Avoids Federal Indictment
A Chicago-based charter management organization (CMO) has agreed to pay $4.5 million to end a long-running federal corruption investigation. Concept Schools Inc. has four publicly-financed campuses in Chicago and about 30 charter schools total in the Midwest. It allegedly engaged in a bid-rigging scheme to steer federally funded technology contracts to insiders. The civil settlement with the government comes more than six years after federal agents raided the CMO’s offices. Concept has denied wrongdoing. Dan Mihalopoulos, Feds Hit An Illinois Charter School Chain With A Big Fine, WBEZ, November 6, 2020
                    
NATION'S FIRST KNOWN LGBTQ CHARTER SCHOOL GETS GREEN LIGHT
"Safe Space" Charter to Open in Birmingham, Alabama 
The Alabama Public Charter School Commission last week approved Magic City Acceptance Academy’s (MCAA) charter application, after denying the application three times in recent months. This was the fourth time the commission voted on MCAA’s application, but the first time there were enough yes vote to approve the school’s application. School leaders’ emphasis in recent weeks on their plan to use trauma-informed instruction to help students who are facing challenges beyond the classroom may be what turned the tide. After the vote, MCAA supporters wiped away tears of emotion, saying they know the school will only be able to serve a small number of the kids that need the type of support the school has to offer but, “at least we’re getting started.” The school plans to open in fall 2021 with 250 to 300 students in grades six through 12 in a suburb south of Birmingham. Students who do not identify as LGBTQ will also be welcome.
Trisha Powell Crain, Birmingham LGBTQ Safe Space Charter School Approved for 2021 Opening, AL.com, November 4, 2020
School Improvement Partnership improves transparency and accountability in the charter school bond market. As continuing disclosure agent for more than 40 schools in six states, we enhance the form and content of secondary market information for charter school bond investors. On behalf of such investors, School Improvement Partnership performs comprehensive evaluations of charter school borrowers in transition - both pre-investment and post-investment. Please view our website or call us at 215.854.6322.
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