Charter School Requests Another Loan

We are curious about the newest loan request from another charter school, Mountain Phoenix for an additional $250,000 and inability to complete repayment of previous loan.  The numbers don’t seem to add up after seeing the bond funding.
 
 
First, we must state that Jeffco Schools has some charter schools that perform very well and are very transparent.  For one example, take a look at Woodrow Wilson:
 
Founded in 2000, Woodrow Wilson Academy has always taken a very conservative approach when generating annual budgets.  As a result, when moving forward with a Private Bond Issue to finance the construction of our building, the school was awarded a “AAA” bond rating.  WWA was the youngest and smallest charter school in the nation to receive this rating. Through a very active Financial Committee and early preparation for the downturn in the economy, WWA has been able to manage this financial crisis without cutting programs, reducing staff or dipping into financial reserves to fund operating expenses.  WWA fully expects to continue managing its way through the state and national financial crisis without the use of reserve funds and to emerge a much more efficient and effective school where the outstanding learning environment and educational process is not compromised in order to meet financial demands.In compliance with the “Public School Financial Transparency Act”, WWA’s financials are available to the general public.  As a Jefferson County Public School of Choice, all of WWA’s financial records run through the district’s accounting system. 

 
A return to the Mountain Phoenix conversation:
 
This from Board Docs:
 
  1. In 2008 the Board of Education approved a loan of $93,000 to Mountain Phoenix Community School to be paid back in three payments beginning in 2009.  In 2009 Mountain Phoenix Community School asked that the first payment be delayed by one year and that the loan be paid over five years.  The Board agreed to those changes.  Currently the school still owes the school district $19,800 that is due this year to complete payment of the original loan.
     
  2. Mountain Phoenix entered into a middle school construction project this past year and found that the costs of the project exceeded expectations.  They currently owe $163,343.20 to Himmelman Construction for the costs of the project and are unable to pay this commitment.
     
  3. Mountain Phoenix also experienced a shortfall of $188,000 in operating funds due to unexpected low enrollment from the October count.  They have adjusted their budget to account for the lower enrollment total.  Their adjustments have accounted for a portion of the shortfall.  Their operating fund is still overspent by $84,656.80 due to increased costs of the new construction.
     
  4. Mountain Phoenix requests that the Board of Education delay the final payment of $19,800 due this year from the previous loan and extend their loan by $230,200 to meet obligations to Himmelman Construction and to cover the projected shortfall in operating funds for a total loan of $250,000.  The school has submitted a repayment plan for five years that is attached below.
 
 
In October 2012, the School issued $6,370,000 in Charter School Revenue Bonds through the Colorado Educational and Cultural Facilities Authority (CECFA). These bonds were issued at a rate of 7.0% and will mature in October, 2042. Proceeds for the bonds will be used for the construction and purchase of the School’s current facility.
 
 

The $4,995,991 Proceeds from Bonds were not budgeted and represent the net amount received after issuance discount and issuance fees.
 
OTHER FINANCING SOURCES (USES)
Proceeds from Bonds
4,995,961
1,180,072
6,176,033
 
 
Financial statement on their website shows they’re doing great – no shortfalls.  http://www.mountainphoenix.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/2012-Mountain-Phoenix-Financials.pdf
 
 
 
 
With a bond as well, they built the new school, purchased property and yet are borrowing money from Jeffco for operating costs and bonuses ($16K in teacher bonuses on 11/28/12 while all other Jeffco Schools were making drastic reductions.)
 
 
MOUNTAIN PHOENIX COMMUNITY SCHOOL
ACCOMPLISHMENTS – FY 2010-2011 & FY 2011-2012
 
  • MPCS Revenues increased $2,000,000 from FY 2010–11 to FY 2011-12 ($415,040 to $2,419,049 = $2,004,009); “Zero to 300 in 50 days” had MPCS acclaimed ‘talk of the town!’
  • MPCS Enrollment increased tenfold from FY 2010-2011 to FY 2011-2012 (35 to 372).
  • Enrollment Student Origin depicts 9-County Denver SMSA market-wide penetration – students live across the Denver area, from Aurora to Conifer, Longmont to Golden.
  • Enterprise activities (Pre-K; Before/After Care; Special Building Rent-outs, etc.) inclusive of new Colorado Child Care Licensure increased by over $500,000 ($525,953 – $17,232 = $508,727) from FY 2010-2011 to FY 2011-2012.
  • JeffCo School District Board of Directors voted unanimously January 19, 2012 to re-authorize MPCS for another 5-year contract citing its Waldorf-inspired curriculum’s presence as a unique choice, plus commenting about appropriateness of “Phoenix” name.  Board impressed with thoroughness of Application inclusive of Business Plan (Market Assessment & 5-Year Financial Pro Forma).
  • Successful negotiation of Campus Lease inclusive of Buildings, Grounds and Personal Property (FF&E, supplies, texts, etc.) as well as locked-in exclusive Purchase Option Price.
  • August 28, 2012 Professional Appraised value of MPCS School Campus is $6,650,000 whereas the Purchase Option Price is $3,175,000.
  • Investment Bond Memorandum underwritten by Oppenheimer Funds (unanimously approved by gubernatorial-appointed Colorado Educational Cultural Financing Authority – “CECFA” in two presentations, summer 2012) provides advent of four (4) relocatable “cottages” adding 4,000sf of classroom space to accommodate growth demand if 100 additional students as well as upcoming construction of “new” Great Hall (Phase I @ 10,000sf; Phase 2 @ 5,000sf) to accommodate growth of middle school enrollment plus provide for gymnasium, performing arts and 6 additional classrooms.
  • Enrollment has increased from 287.25 FTE to budgeted 375.5 FTE for purposes of JeffCo PPR (Per Pupil ‘Operating’ Revenue), an increase of nearly 90 students as well as increased Pre-K enrollment from 63 to 87.
  • Renovations to campus via capital improvements valued at $240,000 in expensed supplies and materials coupled with over 4,500 hours of volunteer time of the parent community.
  • Recruited and retained majority of both teachers and administrative staff support which has grown to nearly 50 employees; all who have purposeful support of Waldorf education.
  • Academic focus in FY 2012-2013 is advanced via new Dean of Students, new School Assessment Coordinator plus six Tutors/Interventionists, new Special Education leader, Occupational Therapist, and Speech & Language Counselor/s.

After reviewing all of this information, we just can’t help but wonder why this school would need another loan. 

 

We are thankful for strong charter schools serving children in Jeffco and appreciate those that have demonstrated transparency and make a diligent effort to show student achievement as well as financial data.  We are very worried that the less than transparent charters seeking additional loans damage the image of charters who Support Jeffco Kids!