The private school Bronx Learning Tree is being evicted after a landlord received a better offer, leaving hundreds of students displaced.
A 42-year-old private school has been evicted from its location. The Learning Tree Cultural Preparatory School has been at their current location for over 20 years but has been evicted. Why? The landlord received a lease offer of three times what the Bronx Learning Tree is currently paying and accepted, displacing students for the 2022-2023 school year.
Educational institutions often take a full year to plan for school calendar events and classes. Private schools have to budget tuition rates and scholarships based on enrollment long-before terms begin. Unfortunately, this school was only notified of the notice to vacate in April. This left school officials without enough time to find a new location or properly prepare for such a move.
The Bronx Learning Tree was paying $30 thousand in monthly rent, but a new offer was made last spring. The new tenants offered to pay $90 thousand. Some 300 students and 42 employees were given until August 31st before they have violated the eviction notice, but school officials are fighting against this measure.
They have prepared for a lengthy court battle and are merely requesting that the Bronx learning Tree be given more time while they come up with a solution. The hope is that they can remain through this school year and plan accordingly. If granted, students will be able to continue learning at the current location for the new school year and finish the spring semester through May of 2023.
Unfortunately, the legality of the situation is tricky. Renters are held to their specific contract terms and if the Bronx learning Tree was paying on a month-to-month basis, the landlord may be allowed to continue with the process. This is why so many private schools own their locations. Instead of being beholden to a land owner, learning institutions that purchase their own land have more freedom to control their location and how it is maintained for as long as they own the property.
Whether the Bronx Learning Tree intends to purchase a new location in the future — to avoid another similar situation — is uncertain. What is known is that the school community is working to help fight this legal battle. A Go Fund Me campaign was launched back in June and has raised close to $20 thousand. The goal is to acquire $100 thousand and find a new location to provide students with the education they have sought.
This is a unique situation that displays the changing nature of economic needs. While the Bronx Learning Tree has remained a staple in the area for over two decades, the real estate market has been affected by the ongoing economic uncertainty. Not only are schools working to better focus their budgets but landowners are too.
The Bronx Learning Tree has not disclosed how they are currently functioning under the circumstances. A late start date, temporary location, or other measures may be necessary as the legal battle goes on. It is a shaky start for the school year that has the potential to make or break the school.