Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Charter Schools: The Process

Bill Quinby, Executive Vice President, Studley

Joe Bruno, Founder, Building Hope
Yolanda Cole, Principal, Hickok Cole
Rudy Seikaly, Chief Executive Officer, MCN Build

Charter Schools in the US have significantly evolved over the past 20 years. The concept began in Minnesota in 1991 when a model was developed to allow public schools the freedom and autonomy to innovate. Both public and charter schools are publicly funded, but charter schools are privately operated. Today, charter schools are in all but 8 states and in the US, 4% of children attend charter schools. Of the 210 public schools in Washington DC, 43% are charter, compared to 2003 when charter schools constituted 15% of DC public schools (DCPS).  

The largest challenge charter schools face today is the availability of facilities. Common practices for finding facilities for charter schools include having incubator spaces for new and small charter schools, co-location with DCPS, leasing surplus DCPS, and looking to the commercial market.  Much of the funding for charter schools comes from public financing. Banks that finance charter schools do so using tax credit financing, and although some banks are hesitant to finance the construction/redevelopment of charter schools, banks in DC that regularly lend in this space are Bank of America, BB&T, Eagle Bank, and M&T Bank.

A new concept has been evolving in recent years, which is the development of mixed-used projects that include a charter school component. Two case studies that demonstrate this trend are the East Harlem Center for Living and Learning in Harlem, NY (charter school, 88 affordable housing units and 6,000 SF of office space) and Teacher’s Village in Newark, NJ (three charter schools, a daycare center, 200 apartments and 70,000 SF of retail and restaurant space).

Click here to view attendees.

L-R: Joe Bruno, Yolanda Cole, Rudy Seikaly, CREW DC President Betsy Karmin, and Bill Quinby