TUSD Inspired School Sale Bill Heads To Governor

On Tuesday, the Arizona Senate passed HB2460 by a vote of 17-12-1, ensuring that private and charter schools have a chance at buying or leasing vacant school district property. HB2460 now heads to the governor.

According to the Center for Arizona Policy:

In 2008, Desert Christian School in Tucson was looking for property on which to build an elementary school. As they searched for property, the Tucson Unified School District closed down a nearby elementary school and sought to sell it. Desert Christian repeatedly approached the District for a year and a half trying to purchase the school for two million dollars. The District would not even discuss the possibility. The school remained closed for another year until the District eventually sold it to a developer for $1.6 million.

Because the school district was unwilling to negotiate with Desert Christian, not only did Desert Christian miss out on an ideal school campus, taxpayers lost $400,000. Current law requires school districts to attempt to obtain the highest possible value for vacant property they have chosen to sell or lease. The bill makes clear that school districts cannot prohibit a charter or private school from negotiation to buy or lease the property, and that they cannot withdraw the property solely because a private or charter school is the highest bidder.

HB2460  Passed 17-12-1-0-0
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H.B. 2460; charter schools; vacant buildings; equipment

Prohibits school districts selling or leasing a vacant or unused building from accepting an offer that is less than an offer from a charter or private school.

Background

The School Facilities Board (SFB) annually publishes a list of vacant and unused buildings and portions of buildings owned by the state or by a school district that may be suitable for the operation of a charter school. The list must be made available to applicants for charter schools and to existing charter schools. Statute prohibits a school district that is selling or leasing a vacant or unused building or portion of a building from prohibiting a charter school from negotiating to buy or lease the building. School districts are required to attempt to obtain the highest possible value under current market conditions for the sale or lease of the vacant or unused building. Additionally, statute currently allows school districts to sell used equipment to charter schools before the school district attempts to sell or dispose of the equipment by other means (A.R.S. § 15-189).

Provisions

1. Prohibits a school district selling or leasing a vacant or unused building from accepting an offer from a potential buyer or lessee that is less than an offer from a charter or private school.

2. Prohibits the owner of a building on the SFB’s list from withdrawing the property from sale or lease solely because a charter or private school is the highest bidder.

3. Requires school districts to allow private schools to negotiate to buy or lease a vacant or unused building.

4. Allows a school district to sell used equipment to a private school before attempting to sell or dispose of the equipment by other means.