Private and charter schools provide valuable educational opportunities for children in our state, and they should be afforded the opportunity to buy or lease vacant property that school districts have placed on the market.

The Arizona Senate passed HB 2460 School Sale Equity by a vote of 17-12-1, ensuring that private and charter schools have a chance at buying or leasing vacant school district property. HB 2460 now goes to Gov. Ducey for his consideration.

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 dollars.

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.

HB 2460 is a win-win for taxpayers, and for charter and private schools.    

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