Michigan charter schools, which are funded by public dollars, got a boost from the federal government during the first wave of the pandemic because they're businesses. Private schools did too.
According to Chalkbeat Detroit, Global Educational Excellence, a network of charter schools with 4,500 students, was to receive $2 million to $5 million through the Payroll Protection Program for small businesses. Detroit Country Day in Beverly Hills and Bloomfield Township, where tuition is more than $30,000 per year, was also approved for up to $5 million in the forgivable loans.
That's not to say charters don't need the money to keep staff paid. The issue is that public schools are not eligible for the same benefits.
Like all public schools in Michigan, charter schools receive taxpayer dollars to operate. The volunteer school boards that oversee charter schools typically use public dollars to contract with private management companies, which do much of the work of running a school, including hiring teachers and choosing curriculum. These companies received the PPP loans, not the schools themselves.
Charter schools’ decision to apply for federal business aid has spurred controversy: The schools have continued to receive state funding during the pandemic. Traditional public schools are not eligible for the forgivable small business loans. Charter and traditional schools are tapping other federal aid designed specifically for schools.