Charter School Capital Helps The Academy for Sciences & Agriculture High School Survive and Thrive
Listen as Becky Meyer, the Executive Director of the Academy for Sciences & Agriculture High School (AFSA) shares how Charter School Capital helped AFSA overcome some critical financial challenges when the state of Minnesota was holding back funding for charter schools and bank financing was hard to come by.
Video Transcript: AFSA is an agriculture and science-focused charter school, located in Vadnais Heights, Minnesota. In 2001, the school opened its doors as a charter school, serving the seven-county metro area to help students understand that there are good careers in agriculture and science waiting for them.
Most urban students aren’t aware of those careers. And so, part of our mission is to create a literacy around agriculture and agriculture business.
I think funding for education, in general, is difficult, but in charter schools, we have some additional problems. There are a number of charter schools who do have some good relationships with the local banks. But when the holdbacks went from 15% to 30%, to 40% a lot of local banks got out of the business of loaning money to charter schools also. My school’s budget is somewhere in the range on about three and a half million dollars per school year, and if we’re having to fund nearly a third or more of that money, we have a lot of expenses. We have a lot of time consumed doing that.
And it’s different from a regular district because we do not have access to the low-interest rate pool funding that traditional districts have. We also, technically, don’t have any collateral other than the tables and chairs, perhaps, in our schools, so banks don’t like to look at us very much.
Charter School Capital understands Minnesota charter schools and understands the funding model that we have in place and I think that they’re in the business more than just for the purpose of lending money. I think they’re interested in making sure that charter schools are successful, and that’s an important piece to me. If Charter School Capital wasn’t around at the time when the holdbacks increased, I’m sure that a number of charter schools would have had to close their doors. And, in fact, a few charter schools are continuing to close their doors because they don’t have the financial resources to make it through holdbacks, not necessarily at the fault of the charter school but, probably, because that state is not funding education appropriately. And Charter School Capital stepped in and filled a need that was there in the charter school world.
I think that one word I would use for Charter School Capital would be personal. -Becky Meyer, Executive Director, AFSA
I think that one word I would use for Charter School Capital would be personal. It feels like when they came to Minnesota and funded AFSA High School that they were funding AFSA High School, not just any charter school. They spent a lot of time at our school. They got to know the staff members. They got to know students and they worked with us, and they seem to be proud of our accomplishments as any one of the members of our community would be.
We’re open right now because Charter School Capital came in and funded AFSA High School. -Becky Meyer, Executive Director, AFSA
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