Charter schools as real estate investment opportunity

Here is a different take on public charter schools: as an investment opportunity. Entertainment Properties Trust is a REIT that has recently focused its attention on buying property and leasing it to charter schools. “The big business of charter schools”, Valerie Strauss, The Answer Sheet blog (Washington Post), August 17, 2012.

In the video clip, the interviewer asks about the risk if a school loses its charter (specifically, several campuses of Imagine Schools, a for-profit entity which is becoming a non-profit). The guest answers that the lease is with the overall charter management system, so the closing of a few schools does not impact its revenue. Opening and closing of charter schools is part of the process of figuring out what works and doing more of it.

The blogger seems sort of horrified that private investors would be interested in the public charter school real estate business. Meanwhile, charter school bonds are becoming an attractive investment as well. “Investors Go to School on Charters”, Mike Cherney, Wall Street Journal, July 11, 2012 (discussing IDEA Public Schools‘ plans to offer $70 million in bonds in August). Charter schools face a lot of challenges when trying to raise money for facilities, so attracting private investment is essential.

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