The elite Maryland private school attended by Donald Trump’s son Barron is collecting taxpayer stimulus aid — and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is demanding that money to wealthy schools be returned.
The Brentwood School in Los Angeles, attended by Mnuchin’s own children, is also collecting public funds as part of the administration small business stimulus program meant to help mitigate the economic damage from the coronavirus pandemic, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Neither school plans to return the money.
Revelations of the funds to the institutions even as Republicans threaten to let states — and their public schools — go bankrupt is fueling mounting fury over a massive taxpayer giveaway to wealthy operations.
Struggling small businesses, meanwhile, are being squeezed out of much-needed funds from the Paycheck Protection Program. The loans can become grants if the money is used continue to pay wages and rent.
Mnuchin is demanding private schools with significant endowments return the taxpayer funds intended to help struggling small businesses. “It has come to our attention that some private schools with significant endowments have taken #PPP loans. They should return them,” Mnuchin tweeted Friday.
An aide to the president said that Trump, too, believes the funds to wealthy schools should be returned — even though his administration and Republican lawmakers spearheaded the stimulus package that’s now being taken advantage of by the institutions.
″The president has made it clear that he does not believe private schools with significant endowments should be receiving PPP money, and those that have should consider returning it,” Trump spokesperson Judd Deere told Politico as he responded to a question about St. Andrew’s Episcopal School, where the president’s son is a student.
Despite having an endowment of more than $8 million, according to a 2017 tax filing, St. Andrew’s plans to keep its taxpayer handout. The school told CNN that it applied for the funds to “ensure retention of our full faculty and staff … during this very challenging and uncertain time.” It did not reveal the amount of public funds it’s collecting through the Paycheck Protection Program.
Brentwood, which also did not reveal the amount of its stimulus aid, said in a letter to parents that the money will “help us enormously as we move forward into a financially ambiguous future” created by the COVID-19 crisis, the Times reported. Its endowment in 2017 was $17.4 million, according to IRS records, the newspaper noted. Tuition at Brentwood ranges from $37,500 annually for K-5 students to $44,000 for sixth through 12th grades.
Sidwell Friends in Washington, where Chelsea Clinton and Malia and Sasha Obama attended, also plans to keep its $5.2 million in stimulus funds, The New York Times reported. Sidwell has an endowment of more than $53 million.
The Payment Protection Program, administered by the Small Business Administration, is part of the $2.2 trillion economic stimulus package called the CARES Act intended to support businesses and workers during the pandemic.
The first round of funds in the program ran out quickly as about 300 publicly traded corporations grabbed $1 billion in aid that the public was led to believe would help small businesses.
A second round of payouts is now available.
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