The Chinese-language charter school Yu Ying has locked down the former Marist Seminary at 220 Taylor Street NE—for 30 percent off the asking price. Listed at $10.2 million, the property sold on April 7 for $7.1 million, and the school plans to renovate quickly enough to be open for the 2011-2012 school year.
Except for financing from the Office of the State Superintendent of Education, this was a private deal—unlike many charter startups in the District, which take their chances with the long and often frustrating process of snagging one of the District’s surplused schools. Now seems as good a time as any to mention the federal Government Accountability Office’s report from this March, which found that the city ought to be more transparent about how it awards its excess school buildings. As of December 2010, out of 52 former school buildings transferred to the Department of Real Estate Services, 18 had been awarded to charter schools, even though 25 were subject to the right of first refusal for charters. Being more up front about why applications are rejected, the report said, “may help to avoid the appearance of a lack of fairness among charter school officials and advocates.”
(Remember the Fenty administration? Yeah, that happened.)