The Herald Bulletin

April 14, 2010

ACS rejects $325,000 school offer

Anderson Preparatory Academy tried to buy Edgewood Elementary

By Dave Stafford
The Herald Bulletin

ANDERSON, Ind. — A public charter school’s proposal to purchase for $325,000 an Anderson school building that will close at the end of the year was rejected after the offer was presented to the Anderson Community Schools board in a closed executive session.

Anderson Preparatory Academy made the offer to purchase Edgewood Elementary. “We asked for it to be considered on their agenda, but it wasn’t even discussed” at Tuesday’s public school board meeting, said APA Commandant Robert Guillaume.

“When you’re looking to lay off teachers and so forth, we thought it might be a win-win scenario,” Guillaume said. “We just felt it was an offer that would have been attractive to the taxpayers of Anderson, but apparently not.”

The academy, which houses students in grades 6-9 at ACS’s former 25th Street Elementary, will expand by adding a 10th -grade class next school year, and 11th and 12th grades in successive years. Another facility is needed to house the high school students.

ACS board vice president Tim Long, who chaired Tuesday’s meeting, said the board is in the process of developing a strategic plan about what to do with schools that closed last year and will close this year.

Long said board members also want to wait until a new board is seated in July before taking any action on recently closed school buildings.

“If we had our ducks in a row already, there was a chance it would have been accepted,” Long said of the offer. He said that during his two years on the board, he could recall no prior six-figure offers for the purchase of closed school buildings.

“Basically the board decided not to sell the property to anyone,” Superintendent Felix Chow said of the board’s executive session. “They did talk about it as a group and reached some general consensus.”

“It has been duly presented to the board, the subject matter has been discussed, and that’s all there is,” Chow said.

Long said the board needs to develop a plan to decide which schools to keep and which to sell, and that some buildings are needed in case enrollment unexpectedly increases. “We don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. We could get a better offer tomorrow,” he said.

He said board members did not see the offer until an executive session before the public meeting on Tuesday.

Board member Irma Hampton Stewart has been working with board member Tobi Jones to craft guidelines on the sale of property. Discussion of those guidelines was postponed at Tuesday’s meeting.

Chow and Stewart questioned why Guillaume aired concerns to The Herald Bulletin. Stewart said APA officials “had opportunity to broach the subject at the meeting.” It’s unclear whether any APA officials attended Tuesday’s public meeting.

Guillaume said APA planned to revert to its earlier plan to develop its high school facility at ACS’s former Westvale Elementary School on West 22nd Street. That facility was conveyed to Wilson’s Boys & Girls Club, but it has been vacant since that facility closed.

Contact Dave Stafford: 648-4250, dave.stafford@heraldbulletin.com