Parents and community members publicly voiced their concerns about recent negotiations after Phoenix Elementary School District terminated ASU Preparatory Academy’s lease during a July governing board meeting.
ASU Preparatory Academy has a 100 percent graduation rate and provides vast academic opportunities to its students, many of which are from low-income households. The high-performing school is operated by Arizona State University and encourages students to pursue postsecondary education, and every student of the 2017 class was accepted to a two-year or four-year postsecondary school.
Phoenix Elementary School District (PESD) proposed to raise ASU Preparatory Academy’s (ASU Prep) lease to $2.7 million a year- an 800 percent increase from its current lease.
PESD offered ASU Prep 60 days to negotiate the deal with Phoenix Elementary officials.
ASU Prep jumped on that opportunity and on the evening of Wednesday, Sept. 26, PESD received ASU’s counter proposal to the lease agreement.
In a letter addressed to Larry Weeks, PESD CEO and Superintendent, ASU offered:
“Specific to the annual rent, we are prepared to increase our payment to PESD from $300,000 to $550,000 annual for the term of the lease. We agree that quantifying the value of (in-kind) support that enhances the educational outcomes at PESD is important and should be conducted annually.”
PESD board members received the letter after they were able to add it to the meeting’s agenda. However, PESD Board President Daniil Gunitskiy, briefly addressed the counter proposal at the governing board meeting on Thursday.
He said, “There is further consideration and conversation that needs to take place after receiving that counter proposal.”
Concerned parents and community members used the governing board meeting as an opportunity to show their support for ASU Prep.
The speakers acknowledged that financial stability is an important factor when operating a school district, but pointed out that the well-being and the academic success of ASU Prep students needs to be prioritized when making decisions.
Claudia Lopez, self-employed attorney and parent of ASU Prep students, told CBN that teachers at ASU Prep “believe in [the students] and that’s I think the biggest key. They believe every child there will go to college, can go to college. So, they teach to them in such a way that it makes it happen. It’s all about expectations, right?”
She went on to explain that ASU Prep is a high-performing school that creates opportunities for students, including those who are low-income. Lopez said, “Schools represent more than money.”
The next PESD governing board meeting will be held on Thursday, Oct. 11 at 6 p.m. at the Emerson Court Governing Board Room.