In the spirit of keeping our learning communities as informed as possible, please have another look at the letter Dr. Craig Barrett sent to the families of all BASIS Charter School students on March 20, 2019. Dr. Barrett, of course, is the Chairman of the Board of Directors of BASIS Charter Schools, Inc. He has long been a vociferous support of our particular brand of high-achieving liberal arts education, which we call the BASIS Curriculum, and which is in 37 schools worldwide and 27 charter schools in the United States.
If you're pressed for time and have to put off reading (or re-reading) Dr. Barrett's letter until later, here's a one sentence summary of it: BASIS Charter Schools, Inc. is in incredible shape with regard to its academic program, with regard to each of its 22 Arizona campuses and 27 nationwide campuses, with regard to its incredible teachers and supportive families, and with regard to its finances, land, school-buildings, and business matters.
Dear BASIS Charter School families,
It is the time of year when we have to ask ourselves: “Who understands financial statements and accounting principles better: accountants, national rating agencies, auditors, and bond investors? Or bloggers and reporters with an anti-charter school agenda?”
Yes, it is audit season. Our annual audit at BASIS Charter Schools, Inc., (BCSI) has been publicly-released and – though it is clean and we welcome the audit, as always – certain Arizona reporters are again demonstrating that they do not understand basic accounting. Specifically, you can expect a new round of media accounts in the days ahead to assert that BASIS Charter Schools, Inc. is in debt or facing financial difficulty of one sort or another. The reality is, BASIS Charter Schools is growing quickly in response to overwhelming community demand. As a result, BCSI – the facilities’ owner and non-profit charter holder for all BASIS Charter Schools in Arizona – has taken financial steps (including refinancing to lower interest rates, depreciating assets, etc.) that appear on paper as “debt” but save our schools millions of dollars – funds we’re able to redirect to BASIS Charter School classrooms.
Please keep the following in mind: BCSI is in excellent financial health. Statements and suggestions to the contrary are false. The reality is, BCSI has more than $12 million in positive equity, including the market value of land and buildings. We easily passed our bond covenants last year, pre-paid $1.6 million in debt service ahead of required terms, and ended 2018 with a cash surplus and enough “days of cash on hand” (about $17 million) to satisfy independent auditors, accountants, bond investors, and rating agencies. Our credit rating is unchanged at BB, and S&P Global Ratings has declared our financial outlook “stable.” The last time we made a bond offering, in 2018, there were nearly twice as many orders from investors as bonds that were available. It appears these investors know something that certain members of the media do not.
Finances aside, we know our greatest resource is our teachers. That’s why, over the past three years, we have increased teacher salaries – most recently giving a 10% pay bump to all returning teachers. We’ll continue taking similar steps to improve teacher pay for as long as it is financial feasible and prudent.
Merit-based compensation – the ability for BASIS Charter Schools to reward teacher excellence with added compensation – is essential to our ability to pay competitive salaries in a low-funding state like Arizona. As you know, every ATF dollar that is donated by parents to their school’s ATF campaign stays at that school and goes to support merit-based compensation at that school. Newspapers and bloggers often mischaracterize this practice because they don’t understand or don’t want to understand our schools, our network, and our learning communities.
The bottom line is this: At BASIS, we operate excellent schools… the world’s very best schools, in fact. We know that that’s why you’re here! And we do all of this in a tuition-free, public school setting with no admissions criteria. It’s a minor miracle, and it absolutely would not be possible without your continued support.
We appreciate our families’ commitment to BASIS Charter Schools as we navigate a complicated political environment in which charter schools and the pathway to academic excellence itself are on trial. There may be poor-performing or financially-challenged charter schools in Arizona, but BASIS Charter Schools are not among them.
Thank you for placing your continued trust in us.
Chairman, BASIS Charter Schools, Inc.