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Without loan, new charter faces budget shortfall

– The delay of a loan has put a balanced budget for Thurgood Marshall Leadership Academy in jeopardy.

Before the school’s opening in August, the school believed it had secured a loan to finance operations. The school applied for a $150,000 loan from IFF, an Illinois nonprofit community development financial institution that specializes in helping charter schools with startup costs, board member Will Clark said.

Marshall Academy has incorporated the loan into its budget for this school year.

Clark reported on the school’s finances during a Tuesday board meeting and said the school is looking at a shortfall of $80,000 to $90,000 without the loan.

“(The loan) does not look like it’s going to happen,” Clark said.

The delay comes from the relationship between IFF and American Quality Schools, Marshall Academy’s education management company. Clark said IFF is requiring AQS to submit additional financial documents.

Patricia Yadgir, executive director of student services with AQS, said she would check with the company to see whether it’s possible for the school to still receive the loan after the school year ends.

In the meantime, the school will have to stretch out payments for items like furniture and textbooks, Clark said.

“We will be scrambling a little bit to do this,” he said.

Clark said it will be “imperative” for the school to achieve an enrollment of 170 to 180 students for next year. The school’s ultimate goal is 225. It started this school year with about 130 students but has since dropped to about 100.

In her report, interim Principal Tameka Wilson said the school has been marketing to potential students. Of the nearly 100 current students, about 60 have said they intend to re-enroll next school year. Marketing efforts have targeted preschools and in-home child-care centers in the neighborhood.

AQS has also sent out information about the school to families in the area with school-aged children. Teachers will visit homes around the school to market an upcoming open house.

Yadgir reported to the board that the AQS regional director assigned to the school has resigned. Jasmine Bankhead recently earned her doctorate and has accepted a principal position in Chicago Public Schools. Yadgir said it’s likely another regional director will be assigned to and continue working with the school.