Wednesday, May 22, 2013
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Panels from Kings Valley Charter School and the Philomath School District held an "open negotiation" Thursday.
August 21, 2012
KINGS VALLEY -- Kings Valley Charter School is mulling a request to end its teaching services arrangement with a nonprofit and shell out $750,000 to buy the campus, among other things, in order to end its rift with Philomath School District.
"We're considering components of those offers and if we can afford to do that," said Mark Hazelton, KVCS director. "They put something out there, that's great.
"Now we need to come up with a counter offer."
KVCS and PSD held what amounted to an "open negotiation" on Thursday to try and hash out money and operational issues between the two sides.
The charter school was notified July 30 that Philomath intended to close the school on Sept. 28 for violation of its charter -- a matter that centers on KVCS contracting with a local 501(c)3 organization to provide teaching services.
KVCS believe that the letter was in retaliation for its lawsuit against PSD seeking $300,000 in state remote school funding the school believes it is owed.
Last week's meeting at Kings Valley was attended by more than 100 Kings Valley community members and students and all of PSD's board members, Hazelton said.
KVCS director Mark Hazelton talks with Philomath School District Superintendent Dan Forbes, right, and lawyer Morgan Smith Thursday at the school.
"It was a nice show of commitment to the process we're going through," Hazelton said.
Philomath has since stated it doesn't want to close the school and that the letter was needed to bring Kings Valley to the bargaining table to resolve alleged charter violations.
PSD sent its compromise to KVCS on Aug. 14, which, if agreed to, would see the district revoke its notice of termination on Sept. 28. The charter school, meanwhile, would withdraw its lawsuit.
PSD's conditions for compromise include the following:
* An offer to sell the school property for $750,000, which the district states is the assessed value of the property, minus any improvements the school has made.
* Extend the school's charter for five years. Also, language would be added to allow for prior notice of charter violations and time for them to be corrected before a notice of termination is issued.
* All elementary funding for KVCS, including remote elementary school funding, would be split with 80 percent going to the charter school and 20 percent to the district.
* The charter school will cancel its arrangement with the local nonprofit People Sustaining Kings Valley (PSKV) and have all staff be employed by the school. Any future contracting out of major services would need to be approved by the district.
Morgan Smith, PSD's legal counsel, said given the reaction the termination notice caused, it wasn't the best way to inspire open dialogue.
"The `nuclear option' is not a good way to assure compliance," he said. "With this, we can say `We don't think you are in compliance. Let's talk about it.' The main goal is to have an amicable relationship between the district and the school."
Hazelton said the board was happy with some components of PSD's offer, such as a five-year extension of KVCS's charter -- which expires in four.
The 80 percent-20 percent funding split and $750,000 price tag for the school seems too steep, Hazelton said.
"In our minds, we can't commit to something that's going to leave us financially unstable," he said. "If there's a limit on school rural funds and we go back to the old PERS contribution ... that's a bit of a reach for us," he said.
KVCS's board was to have settled on a counter proposal after press time during a Tuesday night meeting. The two parties will meet again at 7 p.m. on Thursday at the KVCS gym. The meeting is open to the public.