No one has yet gathered a complete list of charter schools that collected funds from the federal relief fund for small businesses called the Paycheck Protection Program. The list was released just a week ago, and there were more than 600,000 recipients. The Network for Public Education is creating spreadsheets and hopes to compile a comprehensive list.

Salon estimates that the charter industry may have received as much as $1 billion from PPP. That’s a lot. But think of it this way. Charter lobbyists made sure that charters were eligible for the money (public schools are not), then let charters know that they could apply. There are about 7,000 charters (enrolling 6% of the nation’s children). If only 1,000 were funded for $1 million each, that’s $1 billion.

Roger Hollenberger, a staff writer for Salon, reports:

One network alone, the Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP), appears to have pulled somewhere between $28 million and $69 million in taxpayer dollars.

Another network of publicly-funded, privately-run schools, Achievement First, appears to have taken in between $7 million and $17 million in PPP loans. The network also received $3.5 million from a special $65 million federal grant that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos awarded to 10 charter management organizations in April, weeks after the PPP was passed, to “fund the creation and expansion of more than 100 high-quality public charter schools in underserved communities across the country.

Citizens of the World Charter Schools in Los Angeles received $1.7 million of the DeVos grant, and also took between $2 million and $5 million in PPP money.

Mater Academy, Inc., in Miami received $19.2 million of the grant, the most of the field. Three days later, on April 13, it took out more than $1 million in PPP money…

Treasury Department does not disclose specific dollar amounts, but breaks loans into maximum and minimum ranges. Salon’s research did not make clear whether this analysis covered every charter school in the nation, but that seems unlikely. Regardless, the minimum total is roughly $500 million, and t the maximum, the total would appear to exceed $1 billion.

Organizations don’t have to pay back their PPP loans if certain employee retention criteria are met. At least 15 charter schools that reported receiving more than $1 million in payroll protection from the government reported putting that money towards zero jobs. At least seven of the schools left the field blank.

One school, Idaho Arts Charter School, Inc., received between $1 million and $2 million in forgivable relief loans, and reported putting it towards one job…

When Congress passed the the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act in March, it allocated $13.5 billion in grants to K-12 schools. Most of that money was intended for public school districts, which share funds with charters.

Public schools shared the CARES Act funding with charter schools, which claim to be public schools but only charter schools could apply for the PPP funding, not public schools. Whatever the total, the charters scored a coup with PPP funding.