New Lease, New Life For Charter School

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Life School College Preparatory is a few steps closer to opening its doors in Payson.


Officials for the charter school, which is chartered out of the Higley, Ariz. School District, are negotiating a lease for property in Star Valley and have ordered a factory-built building from GE Modular in Mesa.


Safety issues at two Mesa Life School campuses have left Payson Life School Director Patrick Tatum cautious about finding a suitable location for the school, which is expected to open with 30 middle-school-age students.


The Life School Legend and Life School Benchmark campuses in Mesa were closed last week due to building code violations. Tatum said those closures will not, however, affect funding for the Payson school.


The director said he is negotiating a lease with Mike Corcoran for a Star Valley lot at the end of Edison Way, but he is still searching for a permanent location for the school.


The lease under negotiation is set to expire in June with one-month options after that and an option to renew for another school year, Tatum said.


"I want to be prepared for construction delays," he said.


Tatum said he hopes to find a location in Payson before next school year. Life school officials have agreed to buy a modular building that can be moved to a permanent location when a suitable lot is found, Tatum said. The 28-foot by 60-foot unit, with two classrooms and two bathrooms, will cost the school between $35,000 and $60,000, and it has a capacity of 49 students, he said.


Tatum, who had planned to open the school in August, said he wants to wait until the project is closer to completion to announce a new opening date.


"We have had so many false starts," the former high school teacher said. (Another) could be fatal to us. It is not fair to the kids and the parents."


At the outside, Tatum said he expects to open the school by January 2000.


In the meantime, Tatum said he is working with parents who want to enroll their children in the Life School program and is teaching a math class for nine fifth-, sixth- and seventh-grade students who are being home-schooled until the charter school opens.

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