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ASU Prep faces uncertain future because of skyrocketing rent

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PHOENIX — As students return to ASU Preparatory Academy in downtown Phoenix this week, there are concerns about the future of the school.

It’s all because the K-12 charter school and the Phoenix Elementary School District Governing Board are at odds with the lease. The district is seeking an annual lease that moves closer to the market value of $2.7 million, up from the $300,000 the Title I school pays now.

Beatriz Rendon, CEO of ASU Prep, said the school will continue operating this year and doesn’t want parents to be worried.

“I would assure them that this is going to be a great school year at ASU Prep,” Rendon said. “We are going to continue to provide the outstanding programming and continue to provide their students with the best education possible, as has been demonstrated in the past with our outstanding results.”

The board said it needed to increase the lease payment to keep up with the market value of the property.

“Arizona law requires the district to negotiate with potential lessees of the property to receive market value,” the board stated on its website. “Given the sustainable rise of downtown Phoenix and value of the property at this time, as good stewards of taxpayer dollars, the governing board must move forward to seek market value.”

The current lease agreement is set to terminate in June 2019. If no agreement is reached, the school would have to close or relocate.

Negotiations between the board and ASU Prep have been underway since April. Last Thursday, the Board voted to extend the negotiation period.

“They gave us 60 more days, so we’re going to work in good faith and as hard as we can to come to a resolution,” Rendon said.

She said the school has a proven track record of providing students with a high-quality education.

“At ASU Prep, our fundamental mission is to prep students for success in college, careers and life,” Rendon said.

“We have a track record of graduating 100 percent of our seniors and 100 percent of them go on to postsecondary success,” she added. “Those metrics alone are certainly well above the averages not just regionally and statewide, but also nationally.”

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