Letter to SUNY board about Success Academy's proposed increase in management fees



Eva Moskowitz credit: NY Post
UPDATE: Just heard that today, the SUNY committee tabled the proposed hike in fees.

April 24, 2012
Dear Chairman McCall, SUNY board of trustees and members of the SUNY charter committee:

I hope you have seen Juan Gonzalez’ article in today’s Daily News; “Public kept in dark about sweet deals for Success Charter Network schools.”

If not, it is reprinted in full below.  I urge you to disallow the proposed egregious hikes in the management fees of Success charters, and the abuse of public process involved in this rushed and secretive deal.

A 15% management fee is twice the average for a NYC CMO (7%) and close to the average of a for-profit Educational Management Organization (17%).  New charters run by EMOS are now banned, as I’m sure you are aware. Some CMOs, including the Harlem Children Zone, charge no management fees at all. The independent study that shows this is posted here: http://goo.gl/4lXrC

Since Ms. Moskowitz receives free space and services from DOE, as well as raises millions from private sources, there is no reason for her to reap more fees from taxpayers in order to expand her already extensive bureaucracy, resources that should be spent instead on the schoolchildren of New York City.

As the Success chain of charters grows, despite intense community opposition, her management fees should be lowered rather than increased, due to efficiencies of scale.  If more revenue is needed, let Ms. Moskowitz cut her own exorbitant salary of more than $400,000 per year, eliminate her personal film crew, moderate her spending on political activities, or restrict the many millions of dollars she devotes to advertising and promotion. 

Whatever the possible justification for the hike in management fees, there is no excuse for approving it in such a rushed and secretive matter. If this proposal has been before the Charter Institute since February, as the document entitled “Success Academy Charter Schools 1-5 Merger Summary”, dated 4.17.12 attests, why hold the hearing on a Friday night in April, after parents had only been informed about it three days before?  Why deny parents the right to see the actual proposal?  And why vote on this proposal now?
The very manner in which the notification and scheduling of this hearing and vote are taking place appears to violate the public process required by law. 
As Juan Gonzalez writes, So you have this mockery of the democratic process where parents are asked to comment on a document they have never seen, and even before they’ve done so, the bureaucracy schedules a vote.”

I hope that you will carefully scrutinize all the issues involved in this decision, and vote accordingly.  Here in NYC, we have tired of rubberstamp boards that approve whatever wasteful and damaging proposal that is put before them.

The full article by Juan Gonzalez is below. [Click on the link to see the article.]

Yours sincerely,

Leonie Haimson, Class Size Matters


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