DPS willing to sell to charter operators

DETROIT — Legacy Charter Academy opened this fall at the site of the former Atkinson Elementary School in Detroit, demonstrating a policy shift at Detroit Public Schools to allow selling closed buildings to charter school operators, according to The Detroit News.

Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb approved selling 11 buildings to charter operators and others during his first year on the job, The News reported, including National Heritage Academies, which operates Legacy Academy. No buildings were sold in the year prior to that, although the district has closed 150 schools in the past decade, according to The News.

"It really is a new day" for the district, real estate developer Joel Landy told The News. Landy owns three former district schools, according to the report. "They are for the first time selling them to charter schools because there's no other agenda other than educating kids and that's an amazing thing."

School district spokesman Steven Wasko told The News that the former policy of refusing to sell to charters did nothing to slow down charter growth in the city, while school board member Russ Bellant called it a "bad policy change."

New charter schools weaken the nearby public schools and contribute to the loss of enrollment revenue, Bellant told The News.

The Detroit News, "DPS schools get new life as charters," Oct. 2, 2010

Michigan Education Report, "Schools for sale," Aug. 15, 2007