Parents of students at ASU Preparatory Academy received a letter on Monday, the first day of school, that the school may have to close their doors in June 2019 because of a rent increase.

The letter states that the Phoenix Elementary School District requested a $2.7 million annual lease, a massive increase compared to the current lease of $300,000.

"We understand that rent may have to increase, but a demand that's obviously known we can't make--we don't have the money--it calls into question if these negotiations were even made in good faith," Carissa Jakobe, a parent of a fifth-grader at ASU Prep, said.

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The letter stated that the governing board added the item to a meeting agenda with "barely a 24-hour notice." Jakobe said parents were blindsided by the letter because they weren't warned about this increase in rent or that the school board would be voting on it until the very last minute.

"Had we received adequate notice, I would have been at that meeting. We would be fighting for our kids. If we don't pay it, we will lose our school," Jakobe explained.

ASU Prep said in a release that, "if this decision by the board does not end with a reasonable and affordable lease extension, PESD will be responsible for closing down a school with a 100 percent graduation rate and a 100 percent acceptance to higher-education rate. It would also be responsible for eliminating a vibrant community in downtown Phoenix, created by ASU Prep in a building which had previously been vacant and of little value to the district."

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"We have a waiting list. People choose to come to our school. Most of our kids are in district but some kids come out of district just to come to our school," Jakobe said. "This is a free education. We have a right to a free education and a good one. And this is a great one."

The Governing Board agreed to enter into a 60-day negotiating period in an effort to come to an agreement.

There will be a meeting for parents on Wed., Aug. 1 at 8:30 a.m. located in the Media Center at 735 East Fillmore Street.

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ASU released the following statement:

ASU Preparatory Academy is disappointed that the Governing Board of Phoenix Elementary School District has voted to terminate the lease between ASU Prep and PESD which could result in the closing of the highest-performing school in the PESD district.This drastic and avoidable measure follows an equally baffling development: a demand that ASU Prep pay $2.7 million next year in rent for the building, an 800 percent increase over the current agreement. ASU Prep cannot afford that kind of a rate increase, a fact that the board knows.If this decision by the board does not end with a reasonable and affordable lease extension, PESD will be responsible for closing down a school with a 100 percent graduation rate and a 100 percent acceptance to higher-education rate. It would also be responsible for eliminating a vibrant community in downtown Phoenix, created by ASU Prep in a building which had previously been vacant and of little value to the district.If the lease is terminated, the school will have to shut down in the summer of 2019, after the current school year.“In 2009, the district invited us to design and run a quality high school on the site of a chronically underperforming former school,” said Beatriz Rendon, CEO of ASU Preparatory Academy. “We have more than delivered, proving that all students, regardless of background, can be successful throughout their entire K-12 careers. This school in downtown Phoenix has far exceeded the performance of schools around the state and country with similar demographics. ASU Prep Phoenix should be emulated, not closed.”Members of the community are concerned by the news.“As a long-time community activist who strives to be a voice for the children and families who may not always have a voice, I am deeply disappointed that Phoenix Elementary School District is considering closing their doors on ASU Preparatory Academy’s Phoenix campus,” said George Dean, the president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Urban League and chair of the board of ASU Preparatory Academies. “During a critical time when access to higher education is a key pathway to success, shutting down this school is huge step in the wrong direction.”And parents were caught off guard and shocked.“I am dismayed that the Phoenix Elementary School District is considering shutting its doors on ASU Prep,” said Adrian Fontes, an ASU Prep Phoenix parent. “I have three children in this school who are currently thriving and have clear pathways to college. This action by the board is a tremendous disappointment and does a disservice to all families in our community.”ASU Prep calls on the board of PESD to support its remarkably successful students, their dedicated families and the surrounding community by withdrawing this unreasonable and irresponsible demand for an exorbitant rate increase. ASU Prep is confident that PESD will not seek to close its own budget shortfall on the backs of its most important constituency: its students.

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