PHOENIX (AP) — The Arizona Charter Board has approved a school's request to add grades at two campuses, despite some board members raising concerns about the charter holder's debt, teacher pay and out-of-state expansion.
The board gave unanimous approval Monday for Basis Charter Schools Inc. to add kindergarten through second-grade classes to its Mesa and Flagstaff campuses, The Arizona Republic reported .
Before voting on the matter, the board questioned Basis executives about their practice of seeking donations from parents to subsidize teacher pay and their use of Arizona schools and state funding as collateral to expand outside the state.
Basis operates 20 charter schools in the state with more than 900 teachers.
State board member James Swanson asked the executives about the charter's practice of requesting parents to contribute to help fund teacher bonuses.
"Anything beyond a free public education is unacceptable," Swanson said.
Basis Chief Executive DeAnna Rowe told the board that parents aren't required to donate. Only about half of parents give and the average donation is about $600, she said.
On average, the salaries for Basis teachers are less than public school teachers in state, the newspaper previously reported from state records.
While the Basis executives acknowledge that Arizona tax dollars and its Arizona schools have been used as collateral, they told the board no public money was used out of state. The executives said the nonprofit company would liquidate out-of-state schools should any funding problems occur outside the state.
In response to questions about the company's deficits, Basis executives told that board they have plenty of cash on hand.