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Charter Schools Scramble For Leases In Tight Real Estate Market

When charter schools began popping up in the past decade, many school districts housed them on shuttered campuses. But those have grown scarcer, charters have multiplied and affordable space on the private market has all but vanished.

“It is kind of like a big game of sudoku to figure out where people should go,” said Gloria Lee, a partner at the Oakland-based NewSchools Venture Fund, which funds charters.Squeezed by a hot real estate market, the Bay Area’s population boom and their own success, some charter schools are being forced to relocate far from where their students live, cram into smaller spaces, slash programs to afford higher rent — and even risk closing in the wake of heated negotiations between charters and districts over facilities.