Who paid for Edison?

I read this explanation of where the new Edison school in Duluth got its financing before church today. It is certainly accurate. I’m not sure how many of its readers would be very confident of the answer to the question posed by this post’s title after reading it.

The answer is this: Minnesota taxpayers have and will continue to pay for the building of this school. It will not be owned by Edison or the public. It is the property of a business created for and affiliated with the Edison School. The writer baldy says: “…these buildings are financed via private investment, not public money. ” that’s the conclusion to this paragraph:

As the owner of the buildings occupied by the Duluth Edison Charter Schools, the Tischer Creek Duluth Building Co. financed the purchase, renovation and construction of these facilities through the sale of bonds. Private investors, not local or state taxpayers, invested in Tischer Creek Duluth Building Co. and the Duluth Edison Charter Schools. These investors, not taxpayers, assumed all financial risk throughout the 30-year life of these bonds. Thus these buildings are financed via private investment, not public money.

But the investors are counting on public money to make the investment pay and there is risk. If Edison went belly up the investors would have a very hard time recouping their investment. I think their gamble was a pretty good one. Edison has been around and growing for over a decade now and there is nothing on the horizon that appears to pose a threat to it or the investors in its new school building. As long as Edison thrives and the state doesn’t change the law state “lease aid” (read tax revenue) will continue to pass from Edison to the school’s investors as the author’s next paragraph makes clear:

Lease payments from Duluth Edison Charter Schools provide the Tischer Creek Duluth Building Co. the revenue for repayment of these bonds. State law, administered by the Department of Education, determines the appropriateness of the use of Lease Aid. The law assures that if Lease Aid funds are provided for new facilities the school and Affiliated Building Co. clearly demonstrate the need and ability to maintain programming long-term. The process is called Review and Comment.

By the way. The author and I have not got on well for the past couple years as long time readers will know. By coincidence I did meet him today for the first time in a couple years when my daughter took us on a tour of Edison where she works. Its not a fancy school but its a very nice one with very nice views. By the way, the cost per child of building the “Academy” is far less than half the cost per child of the Red Plan schools. My Grandsons will very likely attend it.

The two of us shook hands. I have no doubt that either of us are inclined to take any or our less than cordial words back about the other but I feel better putting the worst of our enmity behind me. He got his schools. I’ve made use of my freedom to criticize the method by which some of them were built. That criticism does not extend to the Edison schools. Everyone in the state of Minnesota paid for them. I once calculated that we in Duluth only paid for something like 2 percent of the cost as we are only about 2 percent of the state’s population. That, unlike the Red Plan schools makes Edison’s building a bargain for Duluth taxpayers.

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