The school year just started Monday for students at ASU Preparatory Academy in downtown Phoenix, but now families fear this year could be their children's last on campus.
The Phoenix Elementary School District Governing Board voted Thursday to terminate their lease agreement, effective June 30, 2019. The school could have to move or possibly shut down. It is a move parents, and school officials say they never saw coming.
"This school is everything that I wanted for my daughter and it also should and must be available for other parents as well," said Carissa Jakobe.
The single mom has been a proud ASU Prep parent for the past six years. Her daughter, Olivia, just started the fifth grade.
"I don't want it to move," said Olivia Jakobe. "I would feel pretty upset because I would lose all my friends."
Families like the Jakobes are now in limbo since the Governing Board requested an 800 percent increase in the school's annual lease. It's asking for $2.7 million, up from about $300,000 a year the non-profit, Title one school pays now.
"Th, of course, is untenable, not viable, would not enable us to operate the appropriate school program," said ASU Prep's CEO Beatriz Rendon.
In a statement, District Spokesperson Sara Bresnahan said:
"Our Governing Board voted to continue exclusively negotiating with ASU Prep for 60 days at our board meeting on July 26, 2018. The negotiations have been underway since April. The district is required under the lease documents to provide a full year's notice to terminate the lease, therefore; that notice had to be provided as the district, and ASU Prep continues to negotiate. The district welcomes public comment on the issue as the negotiations continue."
"We're graduating 100 percent of our seniors, and 100 percent of them are going on to post-secondary [education]," said Rendon.
So while school officials hope their record can help keep their current campus open, parents like Jakobe say they're just getting their fight started.
"This school is ours," she said. "I also want them to know I think they seriously undermined or underestimated the ASU Preparatory community."
The quest for a compromise on that lease amount will continue for the next 60 days. Meantime, ASU Prep is holding a meeting for parents on Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. It will be in the Media Center on campus at 735 East Fillmore Street in Phoenix.