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Tucson charter school buys closed private school, Green Fields, at auction

Tucson charter school buys closed private school, Green Fields, at auction

Green Fields School closed and filed for bankruptcy in July.

Green Fields School was sold Wednesday to a Tucson charter school that wants reopen the now-closed private school as a charter in about three weeks.

One of Tucson’s oldest schools, Green Fields announced its closure and filed for bankruptcy in early July, just a few weeks before the school year began. Accelerated Learning Laboratory, a charter school about 4 miles from Green Fields, bought the school for $2.3 million. Another $250,000 is on the table depending on whether records with personal information about former students and employees will be a part of the sale.

Wednesday’s sale included the school, the name, the website, social media accounts, the school’s phone number, logo and historical items. Records with personally identifiable information are being withheld from the sale until consumer privacy ombudsman Carrie O’Brien has an opportunity to thoroughly review student and employee records and decide who should take possession.

The student records, from 1960 to now, including transcripts, standardized test scores, immunization records, communication from teachers to parents and photos, O’Brien said during a sale hearing on Wednesday. The employee records also contain sensitive information.

David Jones, the headmaster of Accelerated, says the charter school has a very secure privacy policy and that they only want the records in order to distribute them to Green Fields alum who request them.

A mailing list for former students and employees also was withheld from the sale until a court hearing scheduled for Nov. 6.

Accelerated says it wants to open the school by Oct. 21, and the mailing list would let them reach out to former students and employees to invite them to come back.

When the private school closed, it left many families in a lurch trying to find new schools. Green Fields owes thousands of dollars to families who had already paid tuition and deposits for the 2019/20 school year.

While a number of entities involved in the bankruptcy proceedings expressed wanting a competitive bidding process for the school to ensure all of Green Fields’ debt was paid, in the end, Accelerated made the only offer. Casas Adobes Baptist Church made an offer of $2.6 million, but withdrew it.

The debt owed to secured creditors, who get paid before the families, may be about $80,000 more than expected because of interest, according to court documents. Green Fields lawyer Jody Corrales estimated the debt to the unsecured creditors would be 90% to 95% paid, although the final amount to be awarded to the secured creditors is yet to be decided.

As part of Wednesday’s sale decision, Accelerated is taking possession of historical items at the school to “recognize Green Fields’ legacy,” Jones said.

Accelerated plans to keep the Green Fields name on the school but to make it a charter, except for international students, who would still pay tuition, Jones said.

He also said bringing the Accelerated learning model to Green Fields, which focuses on STEM, will improve academics.

Former Green Fields parents, students and employees have been calling Accelerated with interest in rejoining the school when it reopens, Jones said. And Accelerated has been interviewing former Green Fields teachers who would like to return. A couple of them have been hired provisionally, based in whether there are enough students to reopen this year.

Accelerated is immediately opening registration for the school reopening, though many elements are still in flux. To find out more about registering, call 520-850-2955.

Photo gallery: Green Fields School

Contact reporter Danyelle Khmara at or 573-4223. On Twitter: @DanyelleKhmara.

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