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Harding Fine Arts Academy and Harding Charter Preparatory Academy share this 96-year-old building at 333 N Shartel.  [CHRIS LANDSBERGER PHOTOS/THE OKLAHOMAN]
Harding Fine Arts Academy and Harding Charter Preparatory Academy share this 96-year-old building at 333 N Shartel. [CHRIS LANDSBERGER PHOTOS/THE OKLAHOMAN]

Oklahoma City Public Schools will not renew its lease with Harding Fine Arts Academy, telling school leaders this week they need to decide if they want a building offered by the district as a new home.

"OKCPS has been and is continuing to work with Harding Fine Arts to find a suitable space so they can welcome students in August," Courtney Morton, the district's communications director, said Thursday.

Superintendent Sean McDaniel has recommended relocating four charter schools, including Harding Fine Arts and Harding Charter Preparatory Academy, which share a 96-year-old building at 333 N Shartel.

McDaniel has said the structure is not suitable for students and has been assessed "conservatively" as needing around $13 million in repairs.

Harding Charter Prep has agreed to occupy the Oklahoma Centennial Mid-High site in the 2019-20 school year. Centennial is among 15 schools that will be closed as part of the district's board-approved restructuring plan.

Reached Thursday, Harding Fine Arts Superintendent Barry Schmelzenbach reiterated a desire on the part of the school's board to buy the building it currently occupies without having to relocate students in the coming year.

"That's our approach. We want to purchase the building," he said. "The district has been very collaborative and we're confident that we can work together to find a solution, whatever that solution is."

On Monday night, the Oklahoma City school board voted to declare the Harding building surplus property. Should the board vote to sell the property, the district would have it appraised and then conduct a formal bid process.

Morton said it's possible that Harding Fine Arts could purchase the property before the lease expires June 30.

The district has offered to relocate Harding Fine Arts to Putnam Heights Elementary, 1601 NW 36, another school on the closure list.

Schmelzenbach has said Putnam Heights does not meet the essential needs of Harding Fine Arts, which serves about 380 students in grades nine through 12. He said the elementary school does not have an auditorium or gymnasium suitable for high school students and lacks science labs, a dance studio, adult plumbing and suitable parking."What we have determined is we need a building that can handle our mission-critical programs," he said Monday night. "Whether we move or stay, there are renovations that need to take place."

The district has not given Harding officials a deadline to commit to the Putnam Heights building "other than as soon as possible," Morton said.

"Lots of conversations are happening with programs (interested in that space)" she said.

Related Photos
<strong>Harding Fine Arts Academy hopes to purchase and continue using the building at 333 N Shartel.</strong>

Harding Fine Arts Academy hopes to purchase and continue using the building at 333 N Shartel.

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-f17e39fb68595dbe97d87a2e5a0ebb5b.jpg" alt="Photo - Harding Fine Arts Academy hopes to purchase and continue using the building at 333 N Shartel. " title=" Harding Fine Arts Academy hopes to purchase and continue using the building at 333 N Shartel. "><figcaption> Harding Fine Arts Academy hopes to purchase and continue using the building at 333 N Shartel. </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-260eaf52afc4e85c8c8ff7116ac32895.jpg" alt="Photo - Harding Fine Arts Academy and Harding Charter Preparatory Academy share this 96-year-old building at 333 N Shartel. [CHRIS LANDSBERGER PHOTOS/THE OKLAHOMAN] " title=" Harding Fine Arts Academy and Harding Charter Preparatory Academy share this 96-year-old building at 333 N Shartel. [CHRIS LANDSBERGER PHOTOS/THE OKLAHOMAN] "><figcaption> Harding Fine Arts Academy and Harding Charter Preparatory Academy share this 96-year-old building at 333 N Shartel. [CHRIS LANDSBERGER PHOTOS/THE OKLAHOMAN] </figcaption></figure>
Tim Willert

Tim Willert is a native Californian with Oklahoma ties who covers K-12 education, including Oklahoma City Public Schools and the state Education Department. Before that he covered district, federal and appellate courts in Oklahoma County. Prior... Read more ›

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