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Charter schools to buy three Minneapolis district buildings

MPR reported Tuesday the Minneapolis School District is close to finalizing the sale of three of its buildings to charter schools.
The W.I.S.E. Charter School plans to move into Franklin School, a two-story structure in north Minneapolis built in 1970. The Hiawatha Leadership Academy will get Morris Park School of south Minneapolis, and Yinghua Academy, the first Chinese immersion charter public school in the nation, plans to move into Putnam of northeast Minneapolis.
Even though the district has leased space to private schools before, there used to be a policy banning the sale of any district building to charter schools to prevent competition.
"It isn't just a situation of trying to unload property and get some money," School Board member Pam Costain said, in an interview. "We desperately need to unload property, which carries debt and is a burden on our district — but not at the expense of high-quality education for our kids."
Fellow School Board member Tom Madden agreed and said it would be foolish to sell a building to an underperforming charter school because it would result in those students returning to the Minneapolis district. It was important to find good-performing schools that would fit with the neighborhoods, Madden said.
The building sales are partially the result of many meetings in which the district and local neighborhood groups sought input on what should be done with the vacant buildings.
The Minneapolis School District currently has 12 closed buildings, but at this point, the three are the only to be sold to other schools.
Howe, Holland and Northrop are also on the market. Offers on the three properties are due next month.