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ONLY ON 3 INVESTIGATION: Documents show founder of Roger Bacon Academy making millions


BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) -- A records request uncovers that Baker Mitchell, founder of Roger Bacon Academy (RBA) in Leland, is making millions of dollars running local charter schools.

Mitchell founded RBA in 2000, hiring Mark Cramer as his headmaster. Multiple sources tell us Baker recently fired Cramer after 13 years together.

Charter schools get most of their funding from state and local tax dollars. In 2012, documents show that Brunswick County Schools paid Mitchell $4.1 million. That included 16% of the RBA's revenue that went towards management fees, more than $600,000 for "staff development and supervision," and other costs like rent.

Baker owns the land Charter Day School and RBA sit on through a group called the "Coastal Habitat Conservancy," according to county documents. Tax records report Baker received almost a million dollars to rent the land back to himself. "Coastal Habitat Conservancy" also is reported to own most of the equipment and buildings / trailers the school uses to educate students. That equipment is also rented and the money is paid back to Baker.

Tax records also show Mitchell got $3 million of $8 million in gross receipts collected by RBA and Charter Day School in 2010. Baker refuses to turn over any financial records regarding how much he pays himself, staff and teachers. Under state law, he is not required to since RBA is a private entity.

Brunswick County schools claim each student be educated by RBA is costing it $2,464 per student on the local level and $4,692 from potential state funding - a total of $7,156 per pupil. An attorney for RBA counters that the cost is more like $3,300.

We called the RBA offices Wednesday to try to talk with Baker. We were hung up on twice by his assistant, Jill Applewhite.

We will continue to investigate this story and will have updates over the coming days.

Disclaimer: Comments posted on this, or any story are opinions of those people posting them, and not the views or opinions of WWAY NewsChannel 3, its management or employees. You can view our comment policy here.


You aren't much on "Capitalism" are ya?

So, do you guys just walk around holding your pockets open waiting for people to drop money in them for no reason? Do you like all of your "free stuff"? Don't think it fair that someone has the innate ability to make lots of money through honest enterprise?

Obama wants each and every one of you! Go get in line for your rations!

I don't get it?

So who am I suppose to be mad at??? The Rude obnoxious Rich guy who is smart enough to figure out how to made tons of Money Legally, or the State and Local Government who are paying him tons of money each year??? If anything I'm mad at myself for not being smart enough to think this up....hey anyone want to open a Charter School???? Apparently the way the system is currently LEGALLY set up, there is money to be made!!!

So thankful

I'm glad to read that my tax $ goes to this school. Can't think of a better place for it to be spent.

Whats the difference?

"Baker owns the land Charter Day School and RBA sit on through a group called the "Coastal Habitat Conservancy," according to county documents. Tax records report Baker received almost a million dollars to rent the land back to himself. "Coastal Habitat Conservancy" also is reported to own most of the equipment and buildings / trailers the school uses to educate students. That equipment is also rented and the money is paid back to Baker."

Exactly how is this ANY different than any landlord? A person with the means to do so buys a property and effectively "rents" it to a willing tenant. In this case a Charter School rents the land from the owner who happens to be the same person. Good for him! Otherwise he would be paying someone else. To me this sounds like a smart business move, not something that should be shamed in the public media. From my understanding Mr. Mitchell put up his own personal money and time to build a better school in a county that has a dire need for effective education and now is slowly recapturing his initial investment. If WWAY really wants a story maybe they should look into the messes that the public schools in the area continually sweep under the rug.

The real question here is

The real question here is whether the rent that the charter school is paying is higher than market rate. If the rent is indeed higher than market rate for that area, then I'd say that the situation warrants further investigation.

More Questions

Another interesting question-- Did the moniker "Coastal Habitat Conservancy," implying an environmental focus, enable the land to be acquired at a cheaper rate? Was it purchased under a false pretense? Does the name entitle an owner to tax breaks? I am just uncertain why an educational entity would have the words "habitat" and "conservancy" in their name. Has to be a reason.

re: The real question here is

Warrants further investigation by whom? The parents? The government? Who?

It's a privately-owned business.


Tired of my tax dollars going to line this guys pockets to fund a PRIVATE SCHOOL. Charter Schools are nothing but taxpayer funded private schools. Put the tax dollars into public education where it belongs. If you want to send your kid to a private school, PAY FOR IT YOURSELF>

re: "Ridiculous..."

The Legislature passed the law requiring equitable funding for charter schools. My children are grown, out of the house, and employed. RBA has proven time and time again their students outperform students in public schools via EOG testing.

Students who attend private schools, where parents pay a tuition, still pay their real estate taxes that are used to fund the public schools. Same with students at RBA...their parents still pay their real estate taxes regardless of where their child attends school. So in effect, their tax dollars are going to fund their child's education...except in this case, RBA is privately owned.

Wake up

State testing is a joke and so are their numbers. Charter schools are not monitored by the state when testing is concerned, so who knows what they are doing when the schools grade them. Also the kids who attend are selected by the schools, so even if their tests are on the up and up, you will rarely see a poor kid from a dysfunctional family who has a learning disability and no home support at their school. So of course they will do better on tests! I propose we take all the aforementioned kids and make the charter schools teach them. Let's see their scores then! Stop funding charter schools and vouchers and start giving back to public schools. Fix the problem, don't run from it! Public schools aren't bad, just neglected.

Not a single thing you said

Not a single thing you said is true.

the REAL Shake-UP at RBA

The "Shake-Up" for RBA or CDS for that matter isn't that the Superintendent has been fired. The REAL "Shake-Up" is that there has been 14 staff members that have fled from the school in the first 9 weeks. Why you might ask .... it is simple. Not only does the school have a founder that likes to drive through during the football games held at the school in his 100k+ Porsche acting like it is a parade waving and showing off his expensive ride, not even having the decency to get out and say hello to his staff, parents or students, he has employed teachers with criminal backgrounds, children and staff are sitting in classrooms that are infested with mold. Did any parents notice the mold removal truck that was parked on the side of the kindergarten classrooms approximately 2 weeks ago. I find it interesting that New Hanover county is busing students for 2 months to a different school due to mold but the mold is removed from these classrooms in only 3 days? There is so much money brought into this school and not a single raise is offered to any employee. Not only are the staff and teachers paid less than the state average but state benefits aren't offered because CDS employees are not state employees but no break in the cost of insurance is offered to them because it is all going into Baker Mitchell's pocket. Teachers are constantly fearing for their jobs. At the end of the year, the administration calls those that are getting fired or who are not being asked to return to clean out their classrooms and personal belongings, often without a simply explanation as to why they are not being asked to return. The turn over at CDS is insane! Mark Cramer was the last individual in administration at this school who appreciated his staff. It is very unfortunate to see this happen to such a generous person. Charter Day School is on a spiraling downfall thanks to the founder Baker Mitchell and his greedy, scandalous, conniving and dishonest ways. I hope the little remaining staff has sense enough to look for another job because this place won't be around much longer when all of his dirty laundry is hung out to dry but those he has done wrong. Good luck Baker Mitchell, Karma will get you every time.

Glad you can cut and paste

I am so glad you can cut and paste. Where you one of the ones to leave? Could it have been found that these people didn't meet the standards that are required to teach there?

Let’s look at the grades that CDS students get on the state test and compare them to the other schools in the area. I bet CDS records will speak for themself.

I had two sons to go through that school from K-8 and I can tell you they did an outstanding job in educating them.

About the money...

They receive less that the county does to educate the kids. The county still get the transportation funding for the school and the lumch funds. So, what does it cost Brunswick county? Nothing, because they don't have to educate the kids. The County has less seats to fill so that means Taxpayers have to build less buildings.

This shows that the problem

This shows that the problem with financing our education system is not lack of funds. The problem is not wisely dispersing the funds.

There's a difference between

There's a difference between gross revenue and net. This clearly implies that he was personally making millions, while it seems clear the company was merely paid that.

I have no idea what's really going on, so I'm going to show more discretion than the local news media and simply keep my mouth shut until I know some more.

Doggone filthy, evil rich

Doggone filthy, evil rich people. Imagine that! Not talking to reporters who are attempting to crucify him by innuendo in the local press. So the man is making money LEGALLY and has done fairly well. Let's all do the liberal thing and draw and quarter him.
I am sure WWAY is owned and operated by some poverty stricken individual who lives in Creekwood and is drawing food stamps and surviving on their disability checks.

No Problem

So what is the big deal sounds like a smart business man to me.Sounds like he is paying his staff well and he make a few bucks in return.Sounds like to me Brunswick county schools are up set with him for doing so well.Get over it.Also sounds like the kids are getting a better class time.Parents don't have to send there they chose to.So what I want to know who is doing all the boo hooing?


At last a news organization asks the right questions about the charter system. These folk are taking money from children. I can't think of anything worse. Thank you channel 3!

charter schools

I would like for you to first calm down, then research charter schools. Charter schools do not receive the same funding as traditional schools. My family has been a part of Cape Fear Center for Inquiry for 8 years and I can attest, parental and family donations attribute many essential dollars to help the school function. We do not use buses or participate in government funded lunches. No administrators or founders are making a single cent off of this charter school. Our school exist, only because of the generosity of the families who CHOOSE to attend and provide for their children and view all of this as investment into the community. These kids are top of the line, cream of the crop, because the parents are invested. No one is taking anything from any child, at best, the parents and staff are sacrificing above and beyond what your average school communities are. Thank you WWAY for providing this forum.

You need to know the funding

You need to know the funding that keeps a charter school running isnt from your parents it is from PUBLIC SCHOOL FUNDING! What money that is donated from your families is Im sure for extra things not needs. Also I want to say to you that not providing lunches is another way a charter school saves money and not having a transportation system is also a cost saving policy. No money would be needed to buy food to cook or gas for the bus. So to say it like the charter school has it harder then a public school is untrue. What a charter school does do is make it very hard for the public school system to stay focused on education and more on how to cut corners to afford supplies and staff because the county has to give your charter schools money.

re: Bravo

State law requires local school boards to pay charter schools the same amount for their students as they spend on students in public schools. At RBA, their students consistently score higher than public school children on the same EOG tests.

How you can infer that "these folk are taking money from children" leads me to believe you are ignorant of how charter schools are funded...or at least buy into the theory that public schools are the panacea for educating children. There's a reason charter schools are growing in both number and popularity as well as why some parents choose to home school their children.

Taking money from children?

Taking money from children? These kids attend charter schools because the parents CHOOSE to send their children to charter schools. They pay premium prices, all while continuing to pay city and county taxes to support failing public schools. So, an entrepreneur finds a nitch in a community, fills a void by successfully investing and maintaining solid, legal (as far as we know)business practices and, eventually, makes a profit - then becomes the target of the local media for being successful? Wow, what's happened to our nation?

Actually if these parents

Actually if these parents PAID the charter school their kids went to they would then pay premium prices and continue to pay for the public schools and your statement would be true. However that isnt the case, charter schools are free because they are funded by public school systems. Not one parent is sent an invoice for tuition. Now any firing of a headmaster or principal makes the news. That is how this story came about. It then became a place for parents and community members to state their comments just as you have, this in EVERY WAY reflects how GREAT our nation is because we have this FREEDOM to do so. Shame on you for belittling the country so many have fought to defend because people have practiced their AMERICAN RIGHT and voiced a concern on a news blog.

Public suffers to fund Baker Mitchell

So here is the problem, you complain that the public school is failing yet fail to recognize that the charter school is taking money out of the public school budget. I have no problem with a person seeing a problem in the public school and creating a business. My problem starts when they are complaining about public school not doing enough and then taking money from the public school budget to line their own pockets. If you want your child in a private setting, pay for it. Don't take money out of every public students budget so that you can have a "better" education while making public students do more with less!

public suffers?

How so?
because if I am understanding this correctly these charter schools will relieve over crowding provide a better education a better environment and have higher graduation rates for less tax dollars than the public school system which is in my opinion and based on national ratings an abysmal failure.

WE have failed the children for too many decades with public education
it is not working and all the data points to the fact. public education should not be a sacred cow for the sake of politicians and bureaucrats to pat themselves on the back While the children drown in ignorance.

Not so much

Parents don't pay to send their children there. I think the issues here are that he is making millions while the condition of the school (at least CDS) is pretty poor. I know that the lead teachers had a 30 minute discussion at their meeting last week about their VACUUMS. I'm sorry, but he can afford to get new vacuums. They are expected to keep a spotless room with vacuums that spit dirt everywhere. Instead, the teachers beg and plead, and their voices fall onto deaf ears. I also know what the teachers make, and it's not as much as you'd make in a public school.. And if he's got so much money, hire more assistants. Buy better computers. Build a cafeteria. Don't be a greedy old man.

Karmaithinkso idiot

I remember my children going to public schools and the teacher's assistant used a broom on the carpet to clean it. So the beef over vacuums is ridiculous to say the least. How do you know if anyone had a 30 min. discussion about vacuums? It most likely was about cleanliness in the classrooms and nothing more. With the age of the school I would think things are wearing. So what? The public schools are torn down a lot when they could be repaired. I doubt any teacher begged or pleaded for anything. Parents see to it that the best is provided when needed. If teachers make less (do they really?) there than I am sure they would rather to be in a better environment. It's about passion to teach and not money anyway. More assistants are not needed when the teachers do a great job already and the students are eager to learn. The class sizes are small. As for computers, perhaps you missed seeing the 30 new computers just purchased. A cafeteria is not a necessity. Some schools are shutting down their cafeterias now because of the funding and strings attached to operate those. Frankly I wouldn't want to eat the imported, fatty foods prepared at the school cafeterias anyway. Greedy old man you say? He had an idea and it flourished. He had to work hard for his monies and his accountant or CPA is accountable for his income and reporting. Is your income public information? I seriously doubt it, unless you are a state or other employee similar. I don't view successsful people as greedy, as you stated. I do dislike jealous people or lazy folks who talk of things they have no true knowledge of. I consider myself LUCKY. Lucky that I do have knowledge of things that happen at RBA and I AM LIKING WHAT I KNOW AND SEE. Any complainers? Then put your child in a public school taught by bullying teachers and RIDE the broom that is used to clean their classroom. I think the shoe fits you well. On Nov. 4th when the NC public teachers do a walk out for more money I bet you will be looking a place to dump your little darling because you can't stand them being home with you and someone's got to teach them. I certainly hope it is better than you were taught. Praying for your heartburn, so don't deny me my bliss as a RBA supporter.

Yes.. Taking money from

Yes.. Taking money from children.. Patents do not pay to go to a charter school. It is by definition a public school. The money he's paying himself by renting his land back to himself is tax payer money given to him by the state and counties to educate the children that attend. If this was a private school... This wouldn't be an issue.. & to whomever said "pays his staff well" is a joke. Their teachers are paid even less than "normal public" school teachers & they're not given raises. The millions he is making a year could be put back in to the school to make it top of the line & cutting edge but its not. Classroom AC units go weeks without repair, there are barely any computers for the students & almost a nonexistent library for elementary & none for the middle school.. So yes. He is taking money from children.. Our tax money.


Last year my kids classroom had no heat almost all winter, it was not repaired until the last two days of school. They had to hold class they in the music room because of the heat. (Out for six months ).

Parents pay nothing to send

Parents pay nothing to send their children there....the issue is should one person make millions of tax payer without accountability. Again the charter schools are completely funded by the tax payers...parents don't pay. If a superintendent were making this we would say it was robbery.... And don't forget that half of the teachers in a charter school need not be certified. BUt a charter school doesn't even have to show you what they spend money on..... Other schools have to account For every penny.

Mitchell locates his schools in areas where poor people can't get to because he wants a certain clientele... They even have slogans like "free private school". They tend to draw kids whose parents aren't exactly fans of diversity.

They also can expel students without reason. If a student is expelled they have no recourse. none. Do you think that low performing students would be allowed to stay? They make sure if they will affect test scores they are politely told that this is not the place for them. It's a business folks. That's fine if you think that our kids should be treated like a commodity. I personally think that you cannot sell our kids education to the lowest bidder. He is pocketing money personally that in the regular public schools could do massive amounts of that right?