Phoenix group’s money from bonds will finance expansions, renovations

Three charter school groups are about to receive a combined $34 million in bond money for their expansions from a Phoenix group that funds community development projects.

The eight-member board for the Phoenix Industrial Development Authority unanimously approved issuing the education-facility revenue bonds for Choice Academies Inc., Basis School Inc., and the Phoenix Collegiate Academy.

The City Council, which has the final say on Phoenix IDA bond issues, is expected approve the funding at its Aug. 29 meeting.

The non-profit Phoenix IDA provides a mixture of tax-exempt and low-tax bond funds to various developments.

In recent years, the organization has expanded its support to charter schools for building new schools, and for the repair and renovation of current charter-school campus buildings.

The Phoenix IDA receives no money from the city’s general fund. The bonds it issues function like a tax-exempt loan, so recipients must repay the bond investors and pay Phoenix IDA assessment fees.

The Phoenix IDA then reinvests the fees to generate more funds to support more construction projects across the city.

Choice Academies Inc.

The non-profit charter school group runs Adams Traditional Academy for children in Grades K-8 at 2323 W. Parkside Lane in north Phoenix near Pinnacle Peak Road.

The Phoenix IDA has approved issuing $17 million in revenue bonds that will enable the school to buy and renovate a nearby 17,000-square-foot building to add 11 classrooms, a multipurpose room and a kitchen. School officials said the school is expected to serve 700 students this year, up from an estimated 500 last school year. With the expansion, the school plans to hire 14 more staff members.

The bonds are rated BBB-, and carry a fixed rate of 6.50 percent.

Basis School Inc.

The Scottsdale-based non-profit group runs eight Basis charter schools in the state — including one that just opened in northeast Phoenix — for students in Grades 5-12. The Phoenix IDA approved $10 million for Basis to buy land or a vacant building for a new Basis school in the Ahwatukee area.

Basis officials said the new school would open in July to serve 500 students in Grades 5-10. Basis would attract 225 more students by 2015 by adding Grades 11 and 12.

Fifty-four employees would work at the Ahwatukee school.

The bonds have not yet been rated.

Phoenix Collegiate Academy

The Phoenix-based charter-school group runs a school by the same name at 5610 S. Central Ave. for an estimated 190 students in Grades 5-8. The Phoenix IDA approved issuing $7 million in revenue bonds for the school to buy a 20,000-square-foot building at 4441 S. 12th St. so it can serve students in Grades 9-12. Some of the bond funds also would pay for repairs and renovations of the school’s current building and for new classroom equipment.

The school’s expansion would nearly double its enrollment. The school also would hire 32 new staff members.

The bond rating and fixed rate are pending.

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