Wednesday, July 24, 2002

Celebrity Schoolbuilders

It's not every day that People discusses an actor who supports a pro-privatization school position:

He's handsome. He's funny. He's sexy. So, obviously, you can guess what actor John Cusack is into big-time: pushing private, tax-exempt bonds to build three new public schools in New York City. Okay, so it's not a typical cause celebre. Cusack, 36, attends board meetings of the Schoolhouse Foundation, schmoozes backers and helps cover the group's administrative costs. Scoop asked, Why?

What's your motivation?

I've gotten to the point where I've made some money, I've got a pretty good career, I'm going to continue to make films. What else am I going to do with this celebrity? It feels nice to be able to use it for something other than my own personal career goals.

From the Schoolhouse Foundation website:

The Schoolhouse Foundation is a not-for-profit corporation developed to implement an alternative and cost effective mechanism to address this problem. The Schoolhouse Foundation, in partnership with JP Morgan Chase, will finance the costs of school construction by issuing tax-exempt bonds, the debt service for which will be payable from the rental payments on the lease. After the bonds are paid, the Foundation will lease the property back to the City for $1 year. The Schoolhouse Foundation plans to employ an alternative not-for-profit private sector development model under which new facilities can be financed at attractive rates without impact on the City's debt position. This model also takes advantage of the private sector's ability to expedite site selection and implement best of breed design materials and methods.

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