Alex Zimmerman of Chalkbeat reports that Success Academy is laying off employees and firing teachers. The layoffs, about 4% of “non-core” employees, were laid because of the financial crunch caused by the pandemic. The teachers were fired, the chain said, because of their performance.

SA has a board of billionaires and millionaires and is known for its lavish spending on test prep rallies (“Slam the Exam”) in expensive facilities like the Barkley Center in Brooklyn and its graduation ceremony at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It regularly holds plush dinners where hedge fund managers and other moguls announce multimillion-dollar gifts.

One network employee who was laid off and spoke on condition of anonymity said employees were not offered severance, though healthcare benefits would extend into the summer.

“Success Academy is an incredibly well-resourced organization,” the staffer said. “For them to offer no financial assistance for laid off employees in these economic conditions speaks to what the executive office values, which is certainly not its employees.”

Success officials did not immediately respond to a question about severance packages.

One former Success official said the staff cuts could foreshadow staffing shifts in the rest of the city’s charter school landscape.

“I think Success does do a really good job of seeing around the corner,” said the official who still works in the charter sector and spoke on condition of anonymity. “Are they reading the moment a little bit more in advance and some of the difficulties that are coming down the line for the whole sector?”

Success, for instance, was the city’s first big charter network to announce its move to remote learning, making the call two days before the de Blasio administration closed the city’s district schools. The organization has also launched a more regimented approach to remote learning, with caregivers asked to help monitor hours of daily instruction even among the network’s youngest students.

The move to reduce staff is likely to raise eyebrows, as the network has a reputation for spending lavishly on everything from advertising and rallies to executive compensation. Moskowitz earns roughly $890,000 a year, according to the organization’s most recent tax filing.