Urban Prep strike enters day two, as CTU reports financial problems

CTU and management negotiated until late Monday, but remain far apart on issues such as probation and special education needs.

  • 7:30 a.m. TODAY, Tuesday June 8: socially distanced press conference with educators, parents. Urban Prep campus Englewood, 6201 S. Stewart Ave.

CHICAGO – Educators from three Urban Prep campuses will hold a press conference at 7:30 a.m. TODAY, Tuesday June 8 at Urban Prep Englewood Campus, located at 6201 S. Stewart Ave, to talk about the next steps in their efforts to land a fair contract and reopen schools. Educators went on strike Monday at Urban Prep’s three campuses: West, Englewood and Bronzeville. Despite numerous requests from striking teachers to continue negotiations, the management of Urban Prep did not agree to meet again until 5:30 p.m. on Monday. The parties negotiated until late Monday night, but despite some productive conversations, Urban Prep was unwilling to compromise on several of the teachers’ key issues to reach a deal.

Sticking points include Urban Prep’s refusal to enshrine students’ special education rights in binding contract language, and management’s insistence on an extended period for fire educators, even if they are. highly qualified, despite the notoriously high turnover rate of the charter operator’s teachers.

Teachers are also reporting troubling financial practices at Urban Prep, whose CEO earns almost as much for running just three schools as the CEO of CPS earns for overseeing more than 500 schools.

These practices include the charter operator’s history of using payday loan terms to fund school operations – even though CPS provides Urban Prep with the same funding as other charter and district-run schools. Among the troubling financial instruments that Urban Prep management has entered into are “sales of future receivables” contracts with merchant cash advance organizations. These contracts are unprecedented in the public education sector and rare even among charter schools, as they inevitably come with shockingly high interest rates.

Many of the financial operators that Urban Prep has done business with have addresses in New Jersey and New York, states with laws favorable to their operations. These agreements are not structured like typical loans; instead, one party sells a portion of its future income to the lender for a fixed price – usually at a large profit to the lender.

For Urban Prep, that meant selling its future earnings from CPS and other tax agencies – funds meant to support Chicago’s students and schools – to these lenders at a significant loss. Every dollar of this loss reduces funds available for Urban Prep classrooms and student needs.

In 2020 alone, Urban Prep management paid more than $ 1.6 million to Merchant Cash Advance companies, nearly 30% of their annual education spending. In one of the deals, Urban Prep sold for $ 149,900 in future revenue for $ 100,000 – a 50% profit for Queen Funding. In another deal with Green Capital Funding, Urban Prep sold $ 438,000 in revenue for $ 300,000, or a 46% profit for Green Capital.

Urban Prep has also received a total of $ 3 million in conditional repayment PPP loans, but teachers say they see no evidence that these funds have been invested in educational needs.

The Chicago Teachers Union represents more than 25,000 teachers and instructional support staff working in Chicago public schools, and by extension, the nearly 400,000 students and families they serve. CTU is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers and the Illinois Federation of Teachers and is the third largest local teachers’ chapter in the United States. For more information, please visit the CTU website at www.ctulocal1.org.

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