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Colorado Springs Early Colleges sees improved student services in buying Springs Business Park

Board members, staff and contractors associated with Colorado Early Colleges raise glasses of nonalcoholic cider in celebration after approving a $17.3 million loan that will allow Early Colleges' three state-chartered schools - including the one in Springs Business Park off North Chestnut Street - to buy the buildings they now lease. The photo includes Early Colleges founder Keith King (seated, center) and Board President Deborah Hendrix (to his left).
Westside Pioneer photo
On a recent evening, the sign at the entrance to the Springs Business Park off North Chestnut Street lists the tenants - Colorado Technical University and Colorado Springs Early Colleges (CSEC). The main parking lot and building lights can be seen in the background.
Westside Pioneer photo
       Through the three-school entity with which it's affiliated, Colorado Springs Early Colleges (CSEC) high school now owns Springs Business Park - a complex of buildings used by itself and Colorado Technical University.
       The roughly 15-acre property comprises the five parcels on the north side of North Chestnut Street's 4400 block.
       CSEC gives its students the chance to gain an associates degree (at no expense to them) while in high school. Started in 2007, the school uses about 45,000 of the 121,181 square feet in building space at Springs Business Park, with the remainder used by Colorado Technical (also known as CTU).
       The purchase is one of three covered by a $17.3 million loan, payable over 15 years, which was negotiated for CSEC and two similar high schools (one in Fort Collins and the other in Parker). Taking out the loan is the entity called Colorado Early Colleges, with which each school is affiliated. As a result, the schools will now be able to buy the buildings/properties they have been using, a press release explains.
       The three schools combined have an enrollment of about 1,460 students, the release adds. Of these, 600 are at CSEC, according to Keith King, who founded Early Colleges and is still the CSEC administrator.
       In answer to a question, he said CSEC has no plans to relocate CTU from Springs Business Park. The university's lease payments, which CSEC will now receive, will be especially helpful in paying off the mortgage, he pointed out, and that lease has 6 1/2 years to run. He additionally noted that CSEC has room to roughly double its enrollment in its current building space at the east end of Springs Business Park, which has the address of 4405 N. Chestnut.
       King is also a Colorado Springs city councilmember, former state legislator and business entrepreneur. He has previously said he started CSEC with the idea of making college more accessible and using that opportunity as an incentive for high school students.
       “I am proud of our Colorado Early College organization that is giving over 1,400 high school students in Colorado an opportunity to earn an associate's degree,” King said in a prepared statement. “We will use these purchases to stabilize our building costs, and this will allow us to better serve our students. Our goal is to continue to grow this opportunity for students who are wanting to pursue a college degree while in high school.”
       Two CSEC students have even gained bachelor's degrees in high school, according to the press release.
       The release expanded on the school's business plan, as follows: “Because the Colorado Early Colleges schools, like many charter schools, do not receive property tax bond financing for their facilities, they pay for their facilities out of their general operating revenue. This purchase will allow the facilities cost to be approximately 6 percent of the overall budget compared to the average cost for a charter school's facility, which is approximately 15 percent… With the rising cost of college tuition, the stabilization of the building costs will allow more money to go toward college tuition.”
       The purchases are being financed by Sunflower Bank, headquartered at Longmont. “The bank has recently become involved in helping to finance facilities for charter schools throughout the state of Colorado,” the release states.
       The Colorado Early College Governing Board, headed by President Deborah Hendrix, gave final approval to the purchase at its meeting Dec. 17.
       CSEC had already been working toward buying Springs Business Park through a lease-purchase plan that took effect last January. However, buying the property outright through the bank loan is more cost-effective, King explained.

Westside Pioneer article
(Posted 12/18/14; Schools: Other than District 11)

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