APS to consider charter school renewals, KIPP building leases

The Atlanta school board will consider renewing its authorization of several charter schools, including the KIPP Metro Atlanta cluster of schools, and extending their leases of district buildings.

At the board’s Monday meeting, members will be asked to approve a 40-year lease of the former Turner Middle School for continued use by KIPP Atlanta Collegiate and a five-year lease to allow KIPP Soul to move into the former Blalock Elementary School.

The schools whose charter contracts are up for renewal are: Centennial Academy, a kindergarten through eighth grade school with an enrollment cap of 800 students; Atlanta Classical Academy, a kindergarten through 12th grade school with an enrollment cap of 700 students; and the KIPP schools, which would serve up to 4,550 students in grades kindergarten through 12th grade in multiple schools by the end of the new, five-year contract.

The charter contracts for all of the schools expire June 30. The renewal would extend each contract for five years.

In addition to the contract renewals that would allow the charter schools to continue to operate,  the board will consider leasing agreements that let the schools use the district’s facilities.

Among them is a 40-year lease for the Turner building at 98 Anderson Ave. N.W. for KIPP Atlanta Collegiate. The charter operator wants to do a $12 million upgrade there to create a bigger cafeteria and add classroom and office space, according to district documents.

KIPP requested a long lease “given the sizable investment” it would make in APS property.

“The Turner lease will have several provisions that will protect the district's interest in the building and limit its financial liability in the event that the charter is lost or KIPP defaults on its financing,” stated a document prepared by the district and released Friday evening in advance of Monday’s vote.

In December, the school board agreed to let KIPP open two schools, KIPP Soul Primary and KIPP Soul Academy.

KIPP Soul currently has a one-year lease to use the former Walter White Elementary School on Detroit Avenue N.W.; that lease would be allowed to expire on June 30, 2019.

The proposal board members will consider Monday would allow KIPP Soul to lease the former Blalock building for five years, plus optional lease renewals. The district said that proposal has received support from the neighborhood planning unit and Atlanta City Council member Andrea Boone.