For-profit charter school of the future Gateway To Success Academy announced open enrollment for their program scheduled to begin in the fall of 2016. Gateway is the brain child of former Journey Alternative High School Principal, Jamie Bandstra, and Western Land Services owner John Wilson. Bandstra began working and promoting the project while still principal of the alternative education program, even using public school professional development hours to have soon to be unemployed public school teachers help him study the blueprints of the for-profit charter school they were not guaranteed to be offered jobs to teach at. The location for the enrollment paperwork is at 1100 Conrad Industrial Drive in Ludington. This address is also the location for Western Land Services.
John Wilson has his fingers in many pies in Mason County and surrounding communities. He’s the owner of Western Land Services, an oil royalties company that specializes in helping oil companies lease land for oil and gas drilling. Not only heavily invested into opening Gateway To Success Academy, he helped a for-profit company open a day care in Ludington’s closed South Hamlin elementary school (a building that Journey could have used, but the day care was chosen for the building instead). Wilson is the current head of the West Shore Bank Board. He also in the process of opening through his Pennies From Heaven charity partnered with the United Way the Lakeshore Resources Network, a members-only food pantry and community services center.
John Wilson’s Western Land Services was busy until 2010 leasing mineral rights from Northern Michigan land owners for a company called Northern Michigan Exploration. This was a shell company formed in Michigan by another shell company from Delaware called LA Land Acquisition. LA Land then hired O.I.L. Niagaran, who in turn hired Western Land Services to offer land leases to unsuspecting Michigan residents. Who was behind all of this shell company within a shell company smoke and mirrors? Oil giant Chesapeake Energy of Oklahoma. Wilson’s Western Land was under orders not to disclose which company was really leasing the mineral rights from Michigan property owners, and they would have gotten away with it too if hadn’t been for Chesapeake suddenly voiding all of the leases, which means the landowners expecting promised bonuses were never paid. People promised money and not getting it after they signed the contract tend to get angry and sue. Western Land Services was named with all of the other companies involved in the lawsuit on behalf of the leaseholders.
What is it with these “entrepreneurs” and their need to take over property and convert perfectly good public institutions like schools into for-profit corporations? John Wilson reminds of another man who bought up part of a city, opened charter schools and got caught in a fraudulent business deal while convincing people he was a community builder and philanthropist.
The for-profit charter school will be holding a series of presentations over the next few weeks to convince parents to enroll their children into a new, untried school program based on a for-profit charter school chain in San Diego where parents complain about the remedial classes their kids have to take in college because they didn’t learn the skills they need in high school, and all of the students are required to fill out applications to local community colleges so the school chain can boast ALL of their graduates are accepted into college.
We don’t need another for-profit charter school in Northern Michigan siphoning state funds from our already underfunded public schools. The best thing would be for Gateway To Success to never open, or close after failing to make a profit from our tax dollars.