Photo by Nanci Hutson.
PRESCOTT — One down, two to go.
Prescott Unified School District completed the sale of the former Dexter Elementary School on First Street, now leased by the district to the 11-year-old Northpoint Expeditionary Learning Academy.
The sale price: $1 million.
As of Wednesday, Jan. 25, PUSD was no longer the owner of the 40-year-old structure that for the last seven has been leased to the charter school that took over after PUSD relinquished its operation of an alternative high school on the premises. The building that has been on the market for more than three years is one of three under contract to sell to a Phoenix development firm, Ironline Partners LLC.
The other two buildings Ironline is slated to purchase are the now-vacant Miller Valley Elementary School on the corner of Willow Creek and Iron Springs Road and the current district administration offices on South Granite Street.
Northpoint Principal Charles Mentken said Tuesday afternoon Ironline’s owners have pledged to allow the school to continue meeting its mission for its 180 students, with potential to allow the school to grow with the use of a now unused building on the property. The agreement will continue the current lease, and then continue on a year-to-year lease basis, he said.
Mentken admitted that his students, staff and families were “unnerved” when the district initially announced in September it was going to sell the building. Recognizing the sensitivity, the Governing Board incorporated into its contract with Ironline that the current lease be honored, and that the company negotiate a transition with Northpoint.
Ironline’s owners have worked with school leaders such that they intend to support the school so it can continue its mission for students who need a different type of learning environment than is offered elsewhere, Mentken said.
Mentken’s school offers progressive learning and programming for a diverse student body, including those with special learning or economic needs.
Ironline’s owners, one of whom owns a home and property in Prescott, have a reputation for integrity and professionalism in all their real estate dealings and their goodwill will behoove the community as these sales proceed, said district real estate representative Donald Teel, a principal with Commercial Properties Northern Arizona.
Northpoint has a “nice educational niche that no one wants to uproot,” Teel said.
“We’re happy that we are secure, and that we can continue our good work,” Mentken said.
He also thanked the district, and Superintendent Joe Howard, for being “wonderful landlords” over the years and making certain the school’s future was not ignored in these real estate dealings.
“It’s been a very positive relationship over the last seven years … and we’re now excited to have new landlords that will support us in our growing and continuing to the work the community is asking of us,” Mentken said.
PUSD’s lease last year for the Dexter building was $11,000 a month; prior to that it was $10,000 a month. The purchase contract required Ironline honor the school’s lease through the end of the school year.
With this chapter closed, Howard said the focus will now be on the sale of the other two, considerably more marketable, properties.
The closing deadlines for the other two may be stretched some due to permitting and other development-related issues, but the intention of the district Governing Board and developers has been to have these deals finalized by late February or March. The expectation is the district office will close in late February; the board and developer are still negotiating the timing for Miller Valley.
A board decision on a contract extension for the former school is likely to occur at one of the Governing Board meetings, either at its all-day retreat on Feb. 3 or the regularly scheduled board meeting on Feb. 7.
“I think it looks good,” Howard said of the prospective sales on Tuesday afternoon. “The fact that we have this deal (Northpoint) behind us is a relief … and we’re very positive about moving forward with the other two buildings.
“We need to put that money into our classrooms."
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