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Monroe Middle

Columbus (Ohio) board says it will allow vacant school to be leased by charters

Feb. 6, 2020
Lease offer comes after a charter operator expressed interest in buying the former Monroe Middle School, which has been vacant since 2014.

After leaving it vacant for more than five years, the Columbus (Ohio) school board has voted to make a former school building available for lease to area charter schools.

The Columbus Dispatch reports that the former Monroe Middle School, a 56-year-old building that closed in June 2014, is in “below-average condition and would require renovation in order to be utilized," according to the district.

The board’s move comes about a month after the founder of a local charter school network accused the district of violating Ohio law by refusing to sell the building. District officials maintained they had future plans for the facility.

The board said it would consider a five-year "as-is" lease for the property, and the lessee would be responsible for all maintenance and upgrades.. Yearly rent would be about $46,400.

Andy Boy, founder and CEO of the United Schools Network, asserted that what board members have approved is essentially a loophole and isn’t a much better option.

“Offering the dilapidated building as a lease in its current, uninhabitable state is not in the spirit of the law and is a disservice to the students and taxpayers of Columbus,” Boy says.

United Schools has three charter schools in the Columbus, all of which are housed in former district buildings.

In Ohio, districts are required to offer charter schools any facility that has been unused for more than one year, either for lease or for sale at market-value price. That law was updated in 2015 to give priority to “high-performing” charter schools.

“We are disappointed that Columbus City Schools continues to block honest efforts to transform the Monroe building into a home for a thriving school,” Boy says.

The 46,400-square-foot building was appraised at $700,000 in 2019.

The district’s most recent master plan, from 2016, calls for the building to be a new home for the Columbus Preparatory School for Boys someday. In putting forward the lease offer, the district acknowledged the facility is likely to remain unoccupied for five years.

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