A spokeswoman for Atlanta International School confirmed Friday that officials are negotiating with Atlanta Public Schools to buy their current facility outright.

The deal will give the private school a permanent home while helping Atlanta Public Schools fix a budget shortfall, said Atlanta International School spokeswoman Courtney Fowler. Fowler said the discussions began recently. Atlanta International School currently rents the old North Fulton High School building on North Fulton Drive from APS. Fowler said the lease ends in the year 2051.

The purchase price for the North Fulton High building is $6 million, with an additional $2.5 million in in-kind services. Those services will be training and consulting for Atlanta Public Schools’ International Baccalaureate program.  IB is a diploma program for students that many see as beneficial for college applications. The IB program approaches education with a multicultural and global worldview, with an emphasis on foreign languages.

The North Fulton High building is on the same parcel of land as Garden Hills Elementary. APS would divide up the parcel, keeping the Garden Hills property while selling the remaining 9.2 acres.

Sarah Smith Elementary School parents are skeptical of the purchase, however. They believe the IB training would go to schools outside of the North Atlanta High School cluster. APS divides each school zone into clusters, grouping high schools with all of the elementary and middle schools that feed into them.

APS is crafting its Fiscal Year 2014 budget and is looking for ways to make up a $60.9 million shortfall. The Atlanta International School sale would be one of several options, including pulling $20 million out of the school system’s reserve accounts.

Here is Fowler’s full statement:

Recently, Atlanta International School (AIS) and Atlanta Public Schools (APS) have been in discussion about a proposed purchase of the portion of our campus that is under a long-term lease agreement beginning in 1995 and running until the year 2051. We believe that the $8.4M proposal would benefit many; APS would receive funds during a time of budgetary need, and AIS would ensure that our current campus in the Garden Hills neighborhood remains our permanent home. In addition, the current form of the proposed purchase agreement includes International Baccalaureate (IB) teacher training and a consultative commitment over the next 3-5 years. While we are an independent school, AIS aims to be an advocate of innovative, rigorous and relevant education for all of Atlanta’s children.

-Courtney Fowler, spokesperson for Atlanta International School

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