Some readers noticed a detail in my Sunday story on the Pima County Industrial Development Authority that I didn't bother to delve into. Two of the seven out-of-state bond issues by IDA were for Turkish-run charter school companies, in the mold of the local Sonoran Science Academy. This is the network of schools I've written about, inspired (at the least) by exiled Turkish imam Fethullah Gülen.
The two are Coral Academy of Science in Nevada and Horizon Science Academy and Chicago Math and Science Academy, in Illinois and Ohio. The latter two are part of the Concept Schools group and benefited from the same bond issue.
Coral, which is in Reno, is the closer cousin to the Sonoran Science Academy schools among these schools. Sonoran and Coral are members of the Accord Institute, which is a Turkish-run nonprofit in California that serves as a kind of hub for the West's Gulen schools and provides curriculum and other services to the schools. Also, staff has moved between Coral and the Sonoran schools.
Coral was one of the first out-of-state charter schools to benefit from the expansion of activities by Pima County's Industrial Development Authority. A $7.7 million bond issue for the school, enabled by the IDA, occurred Aug. 27, 2008.
In the other case, the named borrower is a corporation called New Plan Learning, but the specific schools that would benefit from the bond issue are the Horizon Science Academy schools in Ohio, as well as Chicago Math & Science Academy.
That bond issue has not yet occurred. The IDA's job, for what it's worth, is to act as a conduit that connects a borrower and a lender, allowing the lender to issue tax-exempt bonds. In June the Pima County Board of Supervisors approved up to $90 million in financing for the Horizon and Chicago schools.
Not surprisingly, Sonoran Science Academy has also been a beneficiary of Pima IDA bond issues. But that's been true of many Arizona charter schools since the IDA began financing their projects in about 2001. Sonoran's Phoenix school benefited from $2.1 million in bond financing in January 2006, and the Pima IDA facilitated a $10.6 million bond issue in December that year.