Area schools resist coronavirus with federal wage protection funds
A fairly young school, Carrollwood Day School knew it could struggle financially as the coronavirus hit Florida, plummeting its economy and pushing students to learn from home.
“When we got the call that we had to take distance education, our biggest concern was to make sure our teachers were paid,” said Nicki Ragan, the school’s marketing director.
His leadership turned to the federal paycheck protection program as quickly as possible and won one of three awards of $ 2-5 million that went to Tampa Bay area schools. The others were the Plato Academy charter school system and the Shorecrest Preparatory School.
“Fortunately, we got it,” Ragan said. “We use it to pay our teachers.”
The school said it protected a total of 277 jobs.
A review of the federal P3 loans database shows that more than six dozen private and charter schools in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco and Hernando counties have received support ranging from $ 150,000 to $ 5 million. The federal government does not provide specific amounts, but rather categorizes loans by ranges.
In total, schools said they saved more than 5,500 jobs.
Eight of them belonged to the second highest group of $ 1 million to $ 2 million. They were among the most notable private institutions in the region, including Admiral Farragut Academy, Academy of Lakes, Cambridge Christian, Diocese of St. Petersburg schools, Corbett Prep independent day school, Jesuit high school. , Tampa Catholic School and Tampa Preparatory School.
Shorecrest, which has seen its enrollments drop 9% from projections, viewed federal funds as a lifeline to continue operations “as usual as much as possible,” said marketing director Rachel Barrett.
The school lost all of its ancillary income, such as after-school and summer programs, after the campus closed. The loan allowed him to retain all of the faculty and staff, Barrett said, noting that the school has not replaced employees who have retired or resigned.
The loan “was just in the best financial interest of the long-term health of the school,” she said.
Across the state and nationwide, concerns have arisen that private schools could falter as families lose income and can no longer afford school fees. Their leaders lobbied for support from the federal government, arguing among other things that large numbers of children flocking to short-lived public schools would only further burden these systems.
At the same time, however, some of the country’s wealthiest private schools have come under fire for taking out PPP loans, with some returning the money under pressure.
The US Department of Education has now asked public schools that receive funding from the CARES Act – a separate amount of money for educational aid – to share with private schools. Florida agreed to do soGovernor Ron DeSantis also set aside a portion of his discretionary coronavirus education support budget to bolster the state’s private school voucher program.
Eighteen charter school organizations in the Tampa Bay area received loans of less than $ 1 million, including the Learning Gate Academy, the Athenian Academy, the Pinellas Preparatory and the Gulf Coast Academy of Science and Technology.
They can also receive money from Florida’s $ 173 million CARES grant for public education. The state has identified charter schools as public and funds them as such with tax revenue.
In other states, critics have suggested that charter schools should not receive P3 loans because this other source of money is available to them. Charter advocates have argued that they are underfunded compared to traditional public schools and therefore should have access to aid.
The Times Holding Company, which includes Tampa Bay Times and related publications, received $ 8.5 million from the PPP program.
Two organizations that help local schools with scholarships and other activities also benefit. The Pinellas County and Hillsborough County educational foundations each received between $ 150,000 and $ 350,000, which they said would protect about 50 jobs combined.