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Buyers set to purchase several School District properties

By the Notebook on Feb 26, 2014 08:25 PM

by Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks

The Philadelphia School District says it has four potential buyers for six of its recently shuttered buildings.

Three of the buyers intend to use the properties, at least in part, for K-12 educational purposes.

The total price tag for the potential sales would be about $35 million. After "fees and defeasance of bonds related to these schools," the District will net about $25 million – money that it's already been counting on in its current budget.

"They're really good ballpark estimates," said Fran Burns, the District's chief operating officer. "There could be some subtle variations through the negotiations."

In an agreement that allowed schools to open on time this year, the city promised to cover $50 million in District real-estate sales. The District itself had budgeted for $11 million more than that in real estate sales in its fiscal year 2014 budget. The anticipated $25 million net proceeds from this deal covers the District's obligation first and cuts the city's obligation by $14 million. If the District doesn't sell property worth at least $36 million more by June 30, the city will be on the hook.

That plan was originally trumpeted by City Council President Darrell Clarke. Mayor Nutter expressed concern that the District would come off as "desperate sellers" in its rush to sell property.

Burns insists the District is getting a good deal.

"They're absolutely fair prices," she said. "One thing we saw through this was a very competitive market. And the market's going to drive the price, and the market drove the price."

Burns said the District hired an outside consultant to vet the financial capability of each bidder and gauge its capacity to finalize any potential deal by the end of June. The Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation also analyzed the bids and interviewed the finalists individually.

"We had a very thoughtful process," Burns said.

In October, the real estate investment firm Municipal Acquisitions made an unsolicited $100 million offer for all 28 schools in the District's vacancy portfolio. The District didn't bite.

Clarke, who couldn't be reached for comment, has repeatedly questioned the District's ability to sell property efficiently. He's suggested allowing real estate professionals to take over the job.

The mayor's office emailed to say it was "satisfied" that the sales process is under way and that the net proceeds of the sales are "vitally necessary" to the District's budget.

The four sites in question contain six buildings: University City High School, Charles Drew Elementary, The Walnut Center (all in University City), Anna Shaw Middle School and Alexander Wilson Elementary (in Southwest Philadelphia), and Stephen Douglas High School (Port Richmond).

They were among the District's seven properties listed for expedited sale. In total, the District received 20 bids on these seven sites. The District says it's also considering a sale of the former William Harrison Elementary School in North Philadelphia.

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Comments (18)

Submitted by Anonymous on February 26, 2014 9:56 pm
So the district is selling buildings to charter operators in turn where they will have to pay the charters per student, while falling in more debt. This makes sense.
Submitted by inthetrenches (not verified) on February 27, 2014 3:21 am
The SDP is selling schools that were recently closed (Shaw, Douglas) to replace them with charters - Mastery (of course) is expanding to Shaw and Maritime is getting Douglass - a SDP high school. What other schools will be shut to only reopen as charters? Is Germantown next? The city is not growing enough for the need for more schools. This is a blatant attempt to do the work of the Broad Foundation, Gates Fd., Walton Fd., Koch Brothers, Phila. School "Partnership," etc. Yes, "rid" the city of public schools under public control.
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on February 27, 2014 7:21 am
Yes, and instead of the School District, a public entity, owning the schools, private entities will now own those schools. Yet the taxpayers will still be paying for those schools through charter school reimbursements. It is a wonderful coup for Mastery, the leading squad in the corporate raid on public education, because they now not only own the rights to make money off of students and the taxpayers, they will now own the land! (The assets of the school district). Yet the school district, and the taxpayers, will still be paying for those schools. This is a scenario happening in every city in America, and is a step in the privatization of America's schoolhouses. It is part and parcel of the Broad foundation playbook -- force public schools to close, then reoccupy them by private entities running schools. Why doesn't the district charge them rent for those schools? The district would then make more money over the long run, and still own the schools. With this plan, the one time infusion of funds will be lost, and the district will still be footing the bill for the schools for the long term. In the long run, the district will lose money on the deal. But then again, the purpose is not the best interests of children and our community, the purpose is the dismantling of public education to turn our schools into bastions of private profit. Gotta hand it to Scott Gordon though -- he is the sharpest of them all. He really is. (Just making the play by play calls Scott. Gotta call them as I see them.) This stuff is fascinating to watch unfold.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 27, 2014 9:11 am
Renting to charters could be done in a way that would allow the district to borrow funds for much needed renovations and have the loan payments (renovations) paid for by charter rent. In the end, the charter gets a good facility (at less than market cost) and the district gets a renovated property. The district also gets the cost of maintaining, heating and insuring the buildings out of their expense column.
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on February 27, 2014 9:17 am
Because the State reimburses charters for rent, the cost would in reality remain in the District's expense column.
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on February 27, 2014 10:17 am
The sad and frustrating part about all of this is that we are not working "together" to meet the needs of our students and their communities. We allowing private interests to put their self interests ahead of the -- common good. While some commenters have said there is no "I" in TEAM, and I have made speeches before the SRC about that issue, Mastery is the prime offender of the concept of Team. They are always plotting and scurrying around to manipulate the goings on for their self interests. They are always sending 'their advocates" to SRC meetings to say, "Give us more schools." They never send any advocates to say, "All schools should be equally funded and equally staffed like us." Mastery always puts its interests above the common good. To be honest -- that is disheartening.
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on February 27, 2014 9:34 am
The reason why the District isn't doing any of the common sense things you suggest, is because its playing its role too in the corporate elite plan. The District is doing exactly what is called for to end Public Ed. I don't see any evidence in this context where Scotty 2 Shoes is a genius either. He understands the fix is in. He's simply connecting his dots too. In any case, you are right, this is making money first, last and only and the kids and parents are being played for suckers big time. White Collar Crime 101 for all to see.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 28, 2014 3:24 pm
Much better let these buildings decay while the PFT tries to put a political coalition together that will force the 60k students who are happy in charters back to the district run schools they fled...
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 26, 2014 10:37 pm
So then the SDP should sell the schools to developers who in turn will rent it to the charters. Does that make better sense??? Get over it, charters are here to stay...
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 26, 2014 11:07 pm
Unless they can't make the profit they want...and who do you think will be left to pick up the pieces??
Submitted by JMH (not verified) on February 27, 2014 6:12 am
How is the UCity property not selling for 35 million all by itself????
Submitted by inthetrenches (not verified) on February 27, 2014 8:16 am
Wilson property also should "fetch" a lot. I assume Mastery and Martine Charters are getting their buildings for a song...
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on February 27, 2014 1:53 pm
Folks----Please understand what's happening right before our collective eyes. The reformers are now buying not renting Public School Properties, NOT that they had to really pay rent anyway. Can you say, Kenny Gamble??? They are laying legal claim and ownership BUT The District--tax money--will be used to pay for their expenses as well as paying them PUBLIC MONEY for the kids under their charge. Again, this is playing tennis without the net and they're on both sides of the court. The taxpayers are the court jesters and fools. I can't make it any more plain than that. Other unions are beginning to band together and The PFT needs to do that too. Maybe they are ??
Submitted by anonymous (not verified) on February 27, 2014 5:42 pm
Joe K, I appreciate your staying on the notebook and keeping it real! I hope more and more people are listening to you. There was a time when your energetic, punctuation intense comments seemed a bit extreme. You were right Joe. Readers should pay attention to you. I hope Jerry Jordan is reading this now. Gracias.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 27, 2014 8:40 pm
Right after Germantown High School was sold, during the summer, the District had construction crews doing repairs on the school's exterior. (Don't know about the interior cause I just saw this walking past the school.) Of course this was done at taxpayers expense to prepare the school for sale. Why weren't these repairs done while it was a functioning school? The public schools are being starved by design to prepare them for privatization.
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on February 27, 2014 8:35 pm
Yes, it's their version of the hidden ball trick, look left and go right. Worry about the Kardashians, Dancing with the Stars and those silly shows about people on some dumb island or whatever it is while Democracy is slipping away and it's working.
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on February 27, 2014 5:25 pm
I don't know much but I know scum bags and the reformers are they with very few exceptions. Thank you for your comment extolling my virtues such as they are.
Submitted by Allenwood (not verified) on May 2, 2014 3:13 am
The personal care worker course at the Academy of Learning College expands over a short period of 32 weeks and opens a vista of diverse work opportunities for a successful graduate. A course serves the candidate best when it can earn him job opportunities and repute as a professional. Personal care worker course is the wisest choice in all respects. Experienced faculty and friendly learning environment of AOLC are the added advantages.

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