Okay, that's a little shady. But here's where the great hustle comes in (some cynics might call this a conflict of interest). The way the commission raises money for itself (aside from private dollars from pro-charter billionaires) is by handing out more and more charters. You see, starting next July, Richmond's commission can begin collecting a fee from every new charter it creates. The more charters, the more money in its budget to authorize more charters. And so it goes. Bada-bing. Bada-boom.
The nine commission members — recommended by Gov. Pat Quinn and appointed by ISBE — are already holding official meetings and overseeing a staff member, attorney Jeanne Nowaczewski. The money for the commission’s staffing and other expenses so far comes from the Walton foundation. Other recipients of Walton grants include the Illinois Network of Charter Schools, a statewide umbrella. The foundation reports that it gave the network more than $1 million in 2010. Andrew Broy, the network’s president, said the amount for 2011 is about $950,000.
The network also serves as an intermediary — a “fiscal agent” in nonprofit parlance — for Walton’s funding of the state commission. Richmond said Nowaczewski receives her paychecks from the network, not the commission. Exactly how big is that paycheck, I wonder?