Leadership Public Schools: The Challenges of Real Estate Stability

By Leslie Sara Gaviser, William Meehan III
2009 | Case No. SI111

At the end of April, 2008, Louise Waters had been in her new role as CEO of Leadership Public Schools (LPS) for one month. Before presenting the FY 2009 budget to the board of directors in June, she wanted to complete a long-range sustainability analysis of the organization and the individual schools. In particular, she was concerned about the fiscal viability of the most recently opened campus, LPS Campbell, given its low enrollment and the fact that it had only a one-year facilities agreement for its present site. When she met with the Campbell superintendent, she was told that the Campbell Unified High School District (CUHSD) would be moving LPS Campbell from Prospect High in Saratoga (on the border of Campbell) to Leigh High School in San Jose (on the border of Saratoga) for the next academic year. This would be its third location in three years. Despite numerous conversations, the district was unable to lay out a viable a path to a permanent site within the next two to three years. This represented a significant drain on the fragile financial resources of LPS. Waters needed to develop a position on the school and provide counsel to her board and its constituents, including students, staff, and parents. This case deals with real estate issues facing charter schools, particularly in California.

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