State helps Odyssey get $34 million for Barley Mill / Matthew Albright and Xerxes WIlson, The News Journal
Thanks to the state’s help in securing $34.6 million, Odyssey Charter School can now turn 35 acres of the Barley Mill office complex into a new K-12 campus
This is wonderful news! In the past Odyssey had some push-back on expansion due to land uses issues. As for converting 35 acres of land at Barley Mill office complex to education! This is great news also. Though that property will be exempt from school taxes it’s worth it to keep over-development re: commercial in check.
No taxpayer money will go to the bond, the state’s credit is not at risk and the state will not be liable for repayment if the school defaults, according to Bernice Whaley, deputy director of the Delaware Economic Development Office.
Municipalities are able to provide such tax-free conduit bonds to nonprofits like health care services and schools. Odyssey is not the first charter school with such an arrangement with the state and it isn’t the largest such bond approved by the state.
Those who oppose conduit loans for charter schools are clearly anti-charter school! Conduit “loans” doesn’t cost the taxpayers one dime and there is no additional capital funding from the state. From my point of view, the charter school debate is all about unequal admission practices giving charter schools the competitive edge. Odyssey is very diverse and has an open admission process where all applications are place in an open lottery systems. Like choice traditional schools, Odyssey gives sibling preferences. Also, Odyssey doesn’t use the cherry-picking like Charter School of Wilmington. And as far as Charter School of Wilmington, their board doesn’t have the skill-set or capacity to move CSW out from under Red Clay like Odyssey did. The time for CSW to expand beyond 9-12 grade configuration is long past and their near deficit spending is a reflection of weak governance. When Odyssey broke-free from Red Clay authority I thought for sure the end was in sight for Odyssey. However, the opposite happened, they prospered and expanded. CSW has a lot to learn from Odyssey.