Elite private schools selling debt to build flashy amenities

“Ivy League stepping stones” adding pools, upgrading properties

Rendering of lobby at Saint Ann's in Brooklyn Heights
Rendering of lobby at Saint Ann's in Brooklyn Heights

New York City’s private schools are selling debt at the fastest rate in over a decade to get the edge on the competition and attract students with state-of-the-art facilities.

Riverdale Country School in the Bronx, Saint Ann’s School in Brooklyn and La Scuola d’Italia Guglielmo Marconi near Central Park are planning to sell almost $150 million of bonds combined to fund projects like a new six-lane pool and musical ensemble rooms, Bloomberg News reported.

“It exactly parallels what is happening with colleges,” said Emily Glickman, a private school admissions consultant. American Universities have borrowed over $250 billion in the municipal market over the last decade to upgrade facilities and attract high-paying students.

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Ethical Culture Fieldston School sold $49.4 million in debt on May 1 to build “makerspaces,” laboratory-like workshops. Saint Ann’s, in Brooklyn Heights, plans to issue $30 million in bonds to upgrade its main building and two townhouses across the street.

The borrowing is a benefit to the city, generating millions in tax revenue. [Bloomberg News] — Tess Hofmann