Many private schools in the Bay Area received more COVID-19 aid per student compared to public schools, data shows


SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) – According to an ABC7-I team analysis of state and federal records, many private schools in the Bay Area have received more per student than public schools since the pandemic began.

Our team analyzed the data provided by the California Department of Education to track the amount of state and federal COVID-19 aid funds to public schools. For private schools, we’ve calculated the amount of funding through the Paycheck Protection Program.

ABC7’s analysis found that the average student received about $ 2,523 more per student from San Mateo County’s private schools funded through the Paycheck Protection Program. That is more than three times what the average public school student received.

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“That’s not fair,” said 10-year-old Aiden Nagales, who attends Monte Verde Elementary School in South San Francisco. His school district continues to participate in distance learning. “I have ADHD … it’s really hard to concentrate. Nothing can replace going to school.”

Down the street, St. Veronica’s private Catholic school has been open since October 5th. In order to afford the tuition fees, the Nagales could not pay their mortgage, which rules out that option.

“We can manage, but it’s hard for everyone,” said parents Mark Nagales and Amy Lam.

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Denise Pope, a senior lecturer at the Stanford Graduate School of Education, said, “Private schools have many different sources of funding … fewer students and more space.”

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One example is the Bentley School in Oakland.

The highly regarded private school does not disclose its foundation size, but according to its website, tuition for kindergarten through 8th grade ranges from $ 32,000 to $ 35,000. For grades 9 through 12, tuition increases to more than $ 46,000. The school also received a nearly $ 3 million loan through the Paycheck Protection Program. That’s an average of $ 4,347 per student and three times the COVID-19 aid that an average student in a public school in Alameda County is entitled to at $ 1,332.

ABC7 has asked Bentley School for comments several times, but has not yet received any feedback.

“It just shows that there is still a lot to be done,” said Nagales. “There are still injustices.”

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St. Ignatius, a private Catholic college preparatory school in San Francisco, received nearly $ 5 million in PPP funding. That means that each student receives an average of $ 3,160. The average San Francisco public school student received nearly half of that, about $ 1,734.

“There’s likely a real benefit to the payroll PPP for these private schools,” Pope said. “The difference is the resources that were already in place, the size of the students, the fact that they are not unionized.”

St. Ignatius College Prep informed ABC7 that the board of trustees that run the school has unanimously agreed to apply for the loan in May 2020 and has every intention to repay it. The loan enabled the school to keep staff on the payroll, including teaching staff, the kitchen, and building and site staff. The school also added that the loan helped continue scholarship programs and financial aid and get students back to campus by November 9.

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In a statement, the school wrote: “As a school, we must responsibly plan our financial needs each year in advance in order to prepare for the educational and facility needs of our deserving students. In 2020, the pandemic put additional pressure on our resources that required us, “as stewards to ask for support, for which we were grateful.”

While private schools like Bentley and St. Ignatius College Prep are back in the classroom, the Unified School Districts of Oakland and San Francisco are still debating. In early March, 88 percent of the Bay Area public school districts are still participating in distance learning for most grade levels.

An important resource in getting students back to school is routine tests, which not all public schools can afford. Menlo School, a private college prep school in Atherton, has acquired one-year One Medical membership for all 1,000 students, staff and their families to provide easier access to weekly tests and vaccinations.

The school confirmed to ABC7 that reserves had been used to cover costs. In a statement, the school wrote, “Menlo School did not apply for PPP funding as we believed it was not what the government program intended.”

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“There are some issues with justice … who can afford to go to private school?” said Pope.

The Nagales don’t have that option. Mark and Amy wish they could say to their 10 year old son, “Okay, Aiden. It’s time to go back to school and not worry so much.”

But the worries won’t go away, especially as the waiting list for her 4-year-old to get into preschool has increased from four to five years in San Mateo County.

“As a parent, I’m worried she might fall behind,” said Nagales.

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