California Private School Makes Millions from Snapchat Investment

Published May 12, 2017

St. Francis High School, a Roman Catholic school in Mountain View, California, invested $15,000 in Snap Inc. in 2012 at the recommendation of a parent. When Snapchat went public in March, St. Francis sold two-thirds of its shares and made about $24 million.

In a letter to parents of St. Francis students, who pay on average $17,000 per year to attend the school, administrators said the money would go toward financial aid, professional development, teacher training, and funding of school programs.

‘Creative and Innovative Approaches’

Terry Stoops, director of research and education studies at the John Locke Foundation, says without government, schools are free to innovate.

“When government is not the sole financier of an educational institution, school leaders can focus on new and creative ways to build capacity,” Stoops said. “Otherwise, they would spend much of their time, as public schools do, saying that cruel politicians and taxpayers don’t provide adequate funding. As we know, the definition of ‘adequate’ means ‘never enough.’

“In general, this story is an excellent example of the creative and innovative approaches for those outside the government school sector,” Stoops said. “The long-term viability of their institution is tied to the strength of their endowment.”

Corey DeAngelis, a distinguished doctoral fellow at the University of Arkansas, says government schools lack the incentives necessary for achieving such success.

“Even if, for some reason, it were legal to invest like this in the public system of schooling, and they put $15,000 in and made $20 million, you can’t expect the same result,” DeAngelis said. “It is not necessarily true that [public schools would spend] the $20 million they made efficiently.”

Michael McGrady ([email protected]) writes from Colorado Springs, Colorado.