Wanted to correct one fact and add one observation to my charter school lease aid story from a few days back:
I wrote that charter-affiliated building corporations own facilities “because the schools legally can’t.” Gary Hill, the communications director for the state Senate DFL caucus, pointed me to the statute saying they can (subdivision 7), though they can’t get lease aid for that purpose. For example, someone could donate the land or building, or the school could raise the money privately.
Also, I noticed TCF Bank CEO Bill Cooper wrote a letter to the Strib editor defending St. Croix Prep, a charter school criticized for “insider payments” on a building deal. Cooper, a take-no-prisoners player, should have identified himself as the board chair of St. Croix Prep’s sponsor, Friends of Education (which until recently was known Friends of Ascension). According to editorial page editor Scott Gillespie, Cooper didn’t.
I found it interesting that the Strib didn’t identify Friends of Education in its original story; that was one hot button avoided. However, it’s a defensible call — enough folks have told me that sponsors had limited authority to vet deals in 2008, when the questionable practices went down. (Again, the school’s defense is here.) The legislature beefed up sponsors’ power in 2009; for example, they can now nix building deals they don’t like.