Posted 2 years ago on Jan. 13, 2012, 8:55 a.m. EST by GirlFriday
This content is user submitted and not an official statement
Imagine Schools Inc., the nation's largest charter school operator, runs six charter schools in St. Louis. Together, their performance on state standardized exams is worse than any school district in Missouri. Nevertheless, those schools are generating millions of dollars for Imagine and a Kansas City-based real estate investment company through real estate arrangements ultimately supported with public education money. The deals are part of a strategy that has fueled Imagine's national expansion. In most cases, Imagine sells its buildings to another company that leases them back to Imagine, with the schools themselves shouldering the rent with public funds. It's a strategy that includes risk. In St. Louis, it has led to one deal gone sour. It has saddled the schools with lease payments that cost more per student than any other charter school in the city. It has led to land purchases on speculation that a school might open.