GREENSBORO — The nonprofit American Hebrew Academy received nearly $1.5 million in loans from the COVID-19 Paycheck Protection Program, despite the fact that its school closed before the pandemic began.
US Small Business Administration records show the private nonprofit school received two loans of $743,059 each — one in May 2020 and another in February 2021. The loans were intended to maintain the school’s payroll. school, according to records.
William Scarborough, the academy’s business affairs manager, said in an email this week that the money was used to help maintain the school’s 100-acre campus.
“The school has had no income since early 2019,” Scarborough said in the email. “Maintenance costs on this campus are quite high – that’s one of the reasons the school closed.”
The campus reopens this month as a facility to house immigrant children pending reunification with family members or sponsors in the United States.
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The US Department of Health and Human Services is paying the American Hebrew Academy nearly $50 million to lease the Hobbs Road campus for five years. The academy will accommodate up to 800 unaccompanied minors who will live there, study and participate in recreational activities, according to the school’s website.
The American Hebrew Academy will also be contracted to provide educational programs. The children will learn reading, writing, mathematics, science and social studies, the Federal Office for the Resettlement of Refugees announced in June, and participate in recreational activities.
The Office of Refugee Resettlement is legally required to care for all unaccompanied children referred by the Department of Homeland Security until they are properly placed with an approved sponsor, the agency said.
Scarborough said the school will be called Greensboro Global Academy, although the Office of Refugee Resettlement calls the site “Greensboro Piedmont Academy for Influx Care Facility for UC (unaccompanied minors)”.
“It will involve around 60 teachers and assistants and a number of support staff,” Scarborough said in the email.
The academy’s press release announcing the lease said up to 800 people would be hired to staff the facility, including counsellors, medical professionals and other workers to meet the needs of unborn children. accompanied.
Scarborough would not comment on the nonprofit’s financial situation or how much it would be paid to provide educational services.
The release also says the federal government will contract out food services and security, though it’s unclear who will provide those services.
The US Department of Health and Human Services did not respond to several emails asking for more information about the facility, including how many children it would house or how much it would cost to provide services.
The announcement that Greensboro’s luxurious northwest campus will house immigrant children is just the latest in a series of plans for the spacious property.
The academy was founded in 2001 as a preparatory school for the International Jewish University, but closed unexpectedly in June 2019. The school, which was losing millions every year, closed for financial reasons, have officials said at the time.
Enrollment that year was 134 in a school originally built for 400.
In September 2019, the American Hebrew Academy announced plans to reopen in the 2020-2021 school year for ninth, tenth, and eleventh graders following a $26 million loan from Puxim Ltd. , a Chinese education society. The loan was secured by the school’s campus, which is valued at $25.8 million, according to Guilford County property appraisal records.
The school planned to start accepting non-Jewish students as well as local students. “By expanding our admissions to a wider population of students, we are confident the academy will thrive,” CEO Glenn Drew said in a 2019 interview with the News & Record.
However, the school did not reopen, and the nonprofit began doing business in November 2019 as AHA International School.
Eight of the association’s board members resigned or were removed from their positions at the time the loan was obtained.
Drew, who according to tax records was earning more than $647,000 and whose company, RSM Associates, received nearly $1.5 million to help with the transition, resigned in November of that year.
In May 2020, the academy announced that it would reopen again – this time as AHA International School. But those plans never materialized either.
The 2020 PPP loan, which was either repaid in full or canceled — the Small Business Administration did not confirm which was the case — was intended to save 50 jobs. The 2021 loan, still open, was intended to maintain 64 jobs.
The school had 159 employees in 2018 and paid nearly $6.7 million in salaries and benefits, according to academy tax filings. The Small Business Administration uses payroll information from the previous tax year to determine a business’s eligibility for a PPP loan.
With the latest federal contracts, the academy will likely enroll more students and employ more staff than at any time in its history.
Contact Kenwyn Caranna at 336-373-7082 and follow @kcaranna on Twitter.