by David Safier
Imagine Schools, the charter school corporation with more schools than any other charter organization (including more than a dozen in Arizona), may not be too big to fail in Indiana. Three of its schools were shut down because of lousy performance. But it's too . . . I don't know, too charter . . . to pay back its loans. The schools borrowed $6.3 million in startup costs from the state, and they still owe $6.28 million. Indiana lawmakers are thinking about wiping the slate clean and forgiving the loans.
If these were mom-and-pop charter schools that were shut down and they didn't have a larger organization behind them, I can see how the loans could be wiped out. I guess the schools could declare bankruptcy, and that would be the end of it. But Imagine is a for profit corporation. It's hemorrhaging money right now, but that's the risk you take in a free enterprise system. If you're still in operation, you have to pay your bills, or that's how it's supposed to work. Imagine Schools should pay up.
It would be interesting to know what the $6.3 million loan paid for. Did the money go toward building the schools? If so, they should be repossessed by the state — except that what Imagine does is build schools with one part of its organization, then sell them to another corporation, which rents them back to Imagine. If that's what happened here, Imagine pocketed the profit from selling the schools which were paid for by a state loan it doesn't have to pay back. Good work if you can get it.