Charter schools are publicly funded — but there’s big money in selling them
By Carol Burris
National Heritage Academies (NHA), the third-largest for-profit charter chain in the nation, is selling 69 of its more than 90 schools to a new corporation created just for the purchase. Charter Development Co., the real estate arm of NHA, will receive the payout from a sale that requires nearly $1 billion to finance. This massive transfer of public dollars into private wealth is running into some roadblocks, however, in NHA’s home state of Michigan.
Both Charter Development Co. and NHA are owned by J.C. Huizenga, an education reform entrepreneur who refers to himself as “the son of a garbage man.” His father was hardly the typical garbage collector, however. In 1971, his successful business joined forces with those of his cousin, H. Wayne Huizenga, to create Waste Management, a trash disposal company worth almost $64 billion today.
The sale of the 69 NHA campuses in seven different states, like the operation of Huizenga’s charter schools, is wrapped in secrecy, even though taxpayers have paid the mortgages for years.