Monday’s disclosure provides the most detailed picture yet of how much money the schools received from the historic stimulus package known as the Paycheck Protection Program, which offered loans that can be forgiven if companies and nonprofits prove that the money helped save jobs.
Private and public charter schools said that they are legally entitled to the money and that it is a necessary infusion, with private donations drying up and enrollment numbers unclear for the next academic year. They need the money, they said, to ensure they can keep all of their employees on their payrolls.
The government data indicates that more than 25 of the District’s 63 charter networks received a loan, while many big-name private schools in the region also received one. The loans ranged between $150,000 and $10 million. The PPP disclosure did not include businesses that received a loan smaller than $150,000, which accounted for more than 80 percent of loans distributed across the country.
“It’s important to realize the uncertainty exists,” said Shannon Hodge, executive director of DC Charter School Alliance, the city’s leading charter advocacy organization. “We know that costs will go up, but more importantly, there are lots of things that are unknown. . . . This program allows them to bring some stability to this uncertain situation.”
Sidwell Friends, one of the few local prep schools to inform its community that it received the loans, got one for more than $5 million. Lowell School, Field School and the Edmund Burke School received loans between $1 million and $2 million, according to the data. The President and Directors of Gonzaga College, a nonprofit that shares an address and is affiliated with the all-boys prep school in the District, received a loan of $2 million to $5 million, according to the Small Business Administration. Representatives of Gonzaga College did not respond to requests for comment on Monday.
In Maryland, more than 100 private, parochial and charter schools reportedly got infusions of federal money, including a string of well-known schools in the Washington suburbs: Georgetown Preparatory School, Landon School, Bullis School and Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School. Each of the four drew $2 million to $5 million, according to the data.
Georgetown Prep, an all-boys school of nearly 500 students in North Bethesda, Md., received $2.7 million, a spokesman said. The school’s president, the Rev. James R. Van Dyke, pointed to the school’s “unique challenge” as a Jesuit boarding school where 25 percent of the students come from outside of the Washington region, including many from overseas.
“We do not know how many of our international students will be able to return to the United States to attend school and live in our residences next fall,” the school’s statement said. “Some of our families may be unable to pay full tuition going forward.”
With a slow economy, charitable giving may also go down. Georgetown Prep has kept its 195 employees on the payroll throughout the pandemic and launched a campaign to bolster its weakened endowment, which supports financial aid and scholarships programs, the school said.
Landon, an all-boys prep school in Bethesda, said in a May community letter that its loan will be used solely for payroll expenses.
Officials at Bullis School, Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School and DeMatha Catholic High School did not respond to requests for comment Monday afternoon. Those schools also did not respond to previous questions from The Washington Post about relief funding.
Charter schools receive public funding based on the number of students enrolled, and the D.C. Council is expected to approve a 3 percent increase in per-student spending for every public school student for the 2020-2021 academic year. Schools that qualify for Title I funding — federal money distributed to schools that serve high populations of students from low-income families — will also receive between 70 and 80 percent in additional funds beyond what they typically are allocated for each Title I-eligible student the schools serve.
Still, some charter schools have said that they are expecting extra coronavirus-related costs, including technology, masks and cleaning supplies.
Among the charter schools that reportedly received PPP loans: Center City Public Charter School, Richard Wright Public Charter School, AppleTree Early Learning, Kingsman Academy, Lee Montessori, Latin American Montessori Bilingual and Monument Academy Public Charter School.