The Indianapolis (Indiana) school board board has agreed to lease one of its closed buildings to a local non-profit while a lawsuit over the forced sale of shuttered facilities goes forward.
The Indianapolis Star reports that the lease clears the way the Indianapolis-based non-profit VOICES Corp. to use the Francis Bellamy School 102 building.
The board opted to approve the lease because Judge Heather Welch has told the district it cannot sell its closed schools but could move forward with leasing the buildings.
The lease for School 102 will run from March 1, 2024 till February 28, 2026. The district will not charge rent for the facility but VOICES Corp. will cover monthly utility fees.
VOICES Corp. provides trauma-informed care and other community services to help at-risk youth and families.
Judge Welch ruled last month that Indianapolis was exempt from the so-called $1 charter law, which requires districts to offer closed classroom buildings to charter school organizations for $1. If no charter operator seeks to acquire a closed building within 90 days, a district is free to sell or lease the property to others.
The lease agreement states that VOICES acknowledges that the terms of the lease may be modified or reduced as a result of the ongoing litigation between the state and school district over the $1 law.
The district continues to argue in court that it should be exempt from the $1 law because of an exemption approved by the legislature, but the state contends that Indianapolis doesn’t qualify for the exemption.