ATC Charter (Part I): Leaving Home

Today’s story is about ATC, the Academy of Technology and the Classics charter school which this week decided to leave the the building that many thought would be its dream home.  The building ATC is leaving was built with about $7 million of industrial revenue bonds, issued in 2005 with the help of the school’s foundation.    The ATC story is — as are most things in life — complicated,  and we’ll only look at a small part of it today.   More in future podcasts.   Jim Atwood has a New Mexico Minute on the transparency — or lack thereof — of our city government.

Listen to the show (20 min)

iPad users click here or (anyone) right click here to download.

Payments on the bonds used to build the school are $45,000 a month — about double what ATC receives from the state as a “rent” subsidy.  The average interest of the bonds is 6.7 percent, and over the life of the bonds, ATC would have paid $15 million: $6.2 million for principal and $8.8 million for interest.

The building as built, though, is only part of the dream home originally envisioned — it lacks an auditorium, a gymnasium, a cafeteria and a technology lab.  Those spaces were meant to be built in a second and third phase of the construction that never happened.  The death of Ruth LeBlanc, the school’s former principal and visionary, the financial crisis and a period of apparently leaderless tumult intervened.

This is the original master plan drawing for the school.  The parts in yellow are not built.

Below are pictures of the exterior of the building.

The Santa Fe New Mexican has done a great job covering this story. Support our local papers by subscribing!  (That’s where we learn about a lot of these stories)  Yes, I am trying to shame you into it … Stop reading for free online and buy the papers!   You can afford it and  we’ll be really unhappy if they are not there anymore.

There are only a few of their many excellent articles on this subject:

ATC board backs move to Kaune Elementary site
Robert Nott | The New Mexican
Thursday, March 22, 2012 

Governing council to consider new lease for ATC with bondholder
Bruce Krasnow | The New Mexican
Wednesday, March 21, 2012

School district: ‘Grave’ concerns with ATC charter school
Robert Nott | The New Mexican
Thursday, May 19, 2011

And the New Mexican’s editorial, mentioned in the interview

Charter troubles deserve closer look
The New Mexican
Wednesday, February 22, 2012 –

And from Jim’s NM minute:

The city withheld an audit report that totally refuted claims the city was making about the benefits of annexation until after the vote on the bond issue.  What’s up with the (non) transparency of our city government?

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