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CHARTER SCHOOL BUSINESS NEWSLETTER

Charter School Business publishes a monthly newsletter dealing with business and financial issues facing charter schools. The newsletter is sent to charter school enthusiasts nationwide by email and fax.


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GROWING EXCELLENT TEACHERS - You invested a lot of Ome and plenty of money in ?nding and hiring your faculty.  How tragic would it be if that investment  was wasted with high turnover?

DEVELOPING EXCELLENT TEACHERS - You invested a lot of time and plenty of money in finding and hiring your faculty. How tragic would it be if that investment was wasted with high turnover?

PRODUCTIVE BOARD MEETINGS - How much do your board meetings cost? That’s not a question charter school boards often ask themselves. If they did, board members might be surprised at how much they spend to hold a board meeting—and how much they waste.

YOUR CUSTOMER - Not long ago I read an interesting newspaper review about a book. This book points out that in successful, customer service-oriented companies, there is a relentless, laser-like focus on the customer and their needs.

SCHOOL LEADERS ARE KEY IN KEEPING TEACHERS - You invested a lot of time and plenty of money in finding and  hiring your faculty.  How tragic would it be if that investment  was wasted with high turnover?

LESSONS FROM HOGWARTS - One reason the Harry Potter universe is so compelling is  that it others lessons and parallels that ring true in our own.   Harry Potter’s school others lessons ...

SOME CHARTER SCHOOL BOARDS SHOULD BE “PUT IN THE STOCKS!” - Board members of a charter school have a fiduciary responsibility as recipients and custodians of public funds and may be held accountable…..for acting foolishly...

THE RE-EMERGENCE OF REITS - I have yet to discover a REIT that offers fair value to a charter school when compared to financing a purchase of their facility.

AN ERIN BROCKOVICH MOMENT - When entering into the complex charter school facility financing market, it is well worth it to get an experienced financial advisor who has no conflicts of interest.

YOUR CUSTOMER - charter schools must product a better product than traditional public education, or they will fail quickly because students are not compelled to attend.

CHAOS IN EDUCATION - Yes, there is more “order” in traditional schools, at least to the outside observer, because there is not a venue for parents to become involved.

CHARTER SCHOOLS MEET THE REAL WORLD - If you want your school to survive and prosper through difficult economic, business, and product cycles, you had better focus on quality management practices.

Stimulus funds available - The goal of this program is to improve the quality of life for rural residents through the provision of essential community facilities such as health care, public safety, and education.

DON'T SEND IT ALL! - An important principal of sound financial management is to plan and work to achieve a cash surplus at the end of each year

IF IT DOESN’T PASS THE SMELL TEST, DON’T EAT IT! - Whenever a prospective lender or broker asks for a large deposit with the application, the red lights should be flashing in your brain like a fire engine.

CHARTER SCHOOL FINANCIAL PLANNING - One aspect of responsible financial planning is the thoughtful creation and maintenance of realistic financial projections.

NEW FACILITY LANDMINES - Make sure that there is no language in the documents that will allow any “wiggle room” for the developer or contractor to pass along cost overruns to the school.

HELP IN THE STIMULUS BILL - Hopefully, these programs will provide the ability for some charter schools to finance their facility purchase when they otherwise would not have the ability.

SURVIVAL MODE - You know budget cuts are surely coming, or are at least likely, so get out in front of the coming reductions.

QUALITY IS KEY TO WEATHERING CHALLENGING ECONOMIC TIMES - The level of quality in instruction, management, and academic achievement are the greatest controllable drivers of enrollment demand.

IS THERE A RAY OF HOPE FOR THE NEW YEAR? - In percentage terms, one must go back to the 1929-1930 era to find losses that match the magnitude of what we have witnessed this past year.

THE CURRENT MARKET ENVIRONMENT FOR FINANCING CHARTER SCHOOL FACILITIES - Hopefully, we will see investors return to the market in the first quarter of next year, which will cause interest rates to decrease…

HOW TO GET A NEW SCHOOL FACILITY DESIGNED AND BUILT LIKE A REAL SCHOOL - There is a new breed of charter-friendly developers who have the expertise and the financial strength to build a school facility for a new charter.

IT IS FAR MORE THAN A FLESH WOUND - A qualified, effective business manager is generally someone with some accounting training and experience.

YOU NEED A QUALIFIED BUSINESS MANAGER - A qualified, effective business manager is generally someone with some accounting training and experience.

LOOKING FOR CONFLICTS OF INTEREST - There are “war stories” that abound in the area of charter school facility finance where school boards have been victimized by those who had ulterior motives.

A TOTAL FACILITY SOLUTION IS MORE THAN BRICKS AND MORTAR - Conventional wisdom is that a school should not commit to facility payments that exceed 15% to 20% of gross revenues.

FINANCING ADVANTAGES FOR SCHOOLS IN SMALLER MUNICIPALITIES - The primary advantage of using the USDA program with a bond offering is that it provides 30-year fixed interest rates instead of 20-year variable interest rates.

WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH… - Good charter schools can still get bond financing, but the interest rates are about 1% to 1.5% higher than they were last year.

GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS THAT HELP SCHOOLS - A money source typically will only have the incentive to discuss the programs that they have available internally.

A BUSINESS OR A PASSION? - It takes a solid management team to run a successful charter school where each of the team members has well-defined roles.

DON’T SPEND IT ALL - Just like a small business, a vital component of a charter school’s health is sound financial management.

A TALE OF TWO CHARTER SCHOOL BOND OFFERINGS - Finding the right match between the lender/underwriter and your school’s unique needs is our priority.

CHARTER SCHOOL FACILITIES—LEASE VS. BUY - Buying usually is less expensive over the long-run. Purchasing a facility using fixed-rate debt “locks-in” a school’s future facility payments.

THE MANAGEMENT COMPANY CONUNDRUM - The enthusiasm and magic of a charter school comes from the local educators and parents getting together to make something great happen.

NEW CHARTER SCHOOLS CAN OWN THEIR FACILITIES - Developer financing typically involves a developer paying to construct or purchase a facility, managing any construction work, and then leasing it to a school with a purchase option.

ANATOMY OF A BOND ISSUE - When financing a facility, I cannot emphasize enough that it is critical to know what you are doing before you start and to retain an experienced financial advisor.

BONDS VS. BANKS - Tax-exempt bond financing is usually the most economic and flexible method of financing charter school facilities.

SOME DAYS ARE LIKE THAT - There are many potentially expensive landmines in the documentation that the inexperienced person does not see coming.

MATING ELEPHANTS - We can arrange facility financing for qualifying charter schools as early as their first year of operation!

FINANCING - Today it is not uncommon to see charter schools financing facilities in the mid to high 5% range.

EDUCATION - Charter schools rely exponentially more on quality “engaged” employees than most small businesses, because they supply a service that is so important…education.

INTERNAL CONTROLS - Internal controls are systems of policies and procedures that protect the assets of an organization, create reliable financial reporting, promote compliance with laws and regulations, and achieve effective and efficient operations.

ADVISORS - The vast majority of municipalities hire a financial advisor to assist them in their financing efforts, and charter schools, in almost all cases, should do the same.

GOOD VALUE FOR YOUR DOLLAR - A prime example of something that is hard to determine value for the price paid is charter school consulting fees."

FACILITIES FINANCING FOR START-UP CHARTER SCHOOLS - "I believe that a management team will know their facility needs far better after having run the school for a couple of years and learning what the needs and particulars of the school are."

CHARTER SCHOOL FINANCING EXPENSIVE - "The charter school facility financing market is still in the early stages of its market cycle when there are not many borrowers or providers of credit."

LEVEL THE PLAYING FIELD - "Good underwriters will put your bonds on the market and let their sales force get bids from potential investors. This assures you of the best pricing available."

A NEW OPPORTUNITY FOR FAMILY FOUNDATIONS - "As a sponsor, a foundation oversees the academic program of the school, i.e., monitors whether or not student learning meets or exceeds pre-determined goals."

CHARTER FINANCING IS TOO EXPENSIVE - "Every aspect of pricing in this business is either directly or indirectly a function of perceived risk on the part of the lender or underwriter."

PLAN AHEAD - "Growth can be accommodated by the financing in various ways if a coherent, well presented plan is available to the prospective underwriters at the beginning of the process."

HOW MUCH DOES THAT COST? - "There are other potentially significant cost items that may be hidden in the body of financing documents."

2006 NATIONAL CHARTER CONFERENCE - "Maybe the most important observation of the conference from my perspective is the sheer proliferation of financing alternatives and sources becoming available to charters."

DON’T LET THE TAIL WAG THE DOG - "I feel strongly that if charter school teachers join the unions, the charters will lose the very strength that makes them desirable."

GET A GOOD NAVIGATOR - "Lenders and investors are looking more closely than ever at the quality of education that a school is providing."

PLAN AHEAD WHEN FINANCING - "As your school grows or your needs change, you made need to add to your financing or refinance completely."

DREAM CASTLES IN THE SKY - "Further, if you want your school to last very long, you must always look for the best management and financial strategies available."

FINANCIAL MARKET PARADOX FOR CHARTER SCHOOLS - "As the charter school market matures, it is natural that there will be problems, both academically and financially..."

WHAT IS A CREDIT ENHANCEMENT? - "Some schools have banded together in pools to get financing...they have pooled cash reserve accounts from all of the schools."

NEVER, NEVER, NEVER DO THIS!! - "Never sign personal guarantees on anything unless you have some “upside” in the deal and some assets associated with that guarantee..."

PARKINSON’S LAW - "I see charter schools with their resources where they belong—in the classroom, while administrators are often stretched to their limits."

TRANSFER $ FROM YOUR UTILITY BILLS TO YOUR EDUCATION BUDGET - "Intelligent energy management projects not only produce permanent reductions in your operating costs, they pay for themselves…"

SURVIVING THE 1ST FIVE YEARS OF THE VERY 1ST CHARTER SCHOOL BOND POOL - "The restrictions we were all happy to live with then are hampering our ability today to implement our redefined goals as schools, businesses, and individuals."

PROFIT HAS A ROLE IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS - "Charter schools have greater freedom to manage, hire and fire, maintain discipline and determine curricula -- all good reasons why most have waiting lists..."

WHERE DID MY MONEY GO? - "As charter school managers, we look at the financial statements produced by our bookkeepers and accountants and observe the results of our school’s financial performance."

INDOOR AIR QUALITY - "The latest round of building code changes is having a significant impact on the design of our schools throughout the United States."

THE CLIENT IS AT THE CORE: A MODEL FOR SUCCESSFUL SCHOOL/VENDOR PARTNERSHIPS - "Be sure that vendors understand your charter school’s day-to-day operations as well as your long-term mission and goals."

CHARTER SCHOOLS AND CONSULTANTS — CHOICES ABOUND - "A key component of the public charter school movement is learning what works best for students and then providing them the best service possible."

AFFORDABLE SCHOOLS - "An economical design for a building along with building products purchased on a national-account price basis can greatly reduce costs and assure quality."

DON’T PAY FOR A DEAD HORSE - "The solution to this dilemma is to find banks and leasing companies that have experience in dealing with non-profits."

DON’T LET THE TAIL WAG THE DOG - "I feel strongly that if charter school teachers join the unions, the charters will lose the very strength that makes them desirable."




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