Charter school could occupy old Gary bank building
By Carole Carlson firstname.lastname@example.org | 648-3154 November 8, 2012 7:20PM
The Gary State Bank building is seen at the corner of 5th Avenue and Broadway in downtown Gary, Ind. Wednesday October 24, 2012. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 10, 2012 6:24AM
GARY — A local charter school could move into the former Gary State Bank building now that the Gary Community School Corp. has spurned the donation.
Kevin Teasley, founder and president of the Indianapolis-based GEO Foundation that operates the 21st Century Charter School and Gary Middle College at 556 Washington St., said Thursday that GEO is considering accepting the donation of the former bank at 504 Broadway.
He expects a decision by next week.
“We’ve been approached by the owner. We’re doing our diligence on the building,” Teasley said.
EFN Gary Property LLC, headed by Edward Napleton, who owns auto dealerships in three states, had offered the 10-story building to the Gary Community School Corp., and the School Board approved a resolution accepting the offer on Oct. 23. Napleton valued the building at about $2 million.
School Board president Darren Washington said the board couldn’t complete an inspection of the building and worried about paying its utility bills. The district was supposed to close on the building Nov. 2, and a news conference had been called to herald the donation. It was hastily canceled late on Nov. 1.
Teasley said if his organization takes over the building, it would likely house students in Gary Middle College, a charter school aimed at dropouts and nontraditional students who want a high school diploma.
Teasley said Gary Middle College has a waiting list of 300 students and could expand its enrollment to 800 if it acquires the bank building.
He said he toured the building Monday and his engineer was reviewing its maintenance reports. “We have to make sure we know what we’re getting into,” he said.
Teasley said he’d like to turn the whole building into an education center for the city.
The donation created controversy on the Gary School Board with two board members voting against accepting the building. They said it needed too many repairs and the district shouldn’t take its focus off improving academics in its schools.