Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Covering Dallas, Monmouth, Independence, Falls City and surrounding areas since 1868
August 28, 2012
KINGS VALLEY -- Negotiations over contract and management issues between Kings Valley Charter School and Philomath School District continue.
In its counter proposal to district leaders on Thursday, KVCS requested PSD's asking price for the school property to be dropped from $750,000 to $106,000 and to increase its student enrollment cap by four to 179 students.
Withdrawing a demand that KVCS end an arrangement with a nonprofit -- People Sustaining Kings Valley -- that handles the school's classroom instruction was also among KVCS's conditions.
"We're hoping they'll take it as bargaining and come back with something in between," said Mark Hazelton, KVCS director.
The Philomath School District submitted on July 30 a notice of intent to close the school on Sept. 28 because of charter violations -- namely, the contract with PSKV.
KVCS officials opine the move was retaliation for its lawsuit against PSD for $179,000 in remote school funding it believes it is owed.
Philomath gave conditions for compromise on Aug. 17. KVCS met with district officials again last week with its response.
KVCS cited a lease agreement between the sides that states any purchase price for the property would be fair market value from a commercial appraisal. One conducted in 2009 gave an amount of $106,000, KVCS said.
Philomath Superintendent Dan Forbess said the 4.5 acre property is assessed at more than $2 million -- it took into account the $1.25 million KVCS has made in improvements when it arrived at its $750,000 offer.
"We're pretty far apart in price," Forbess said.
KVCS wants its relationship with PSKV left intact. Forbess said his district "isn't comfortable with that."
"Our concern is we no longer have no direct connection with the third-party agency that's delivering education to our students," he said.
Putting teachers back on the KVCS payroll would result in a loss of $80,000 in savings from not having to pay into PERS, Hazelton said, noting that was among the reasons for using the nonprofit in the first place.
"I would not say we're not willing to move on it," Hazelton said. "But it isn't something we want to do; we prefer negotiating other terms."
KVCS agreed to PSD's offer of an 80 percent/20 percent funding split for state remote school funding and to extend the lifespan of the charter by another five years.
PSD's board will hold a closed meeting on Tuesday to confer with its attorney and discuss real property issues, Forbess said.
"I don't know what they'll want to do after that," he said. "They may want a counter proposal or another meeting.
"It's not anybody's intent to not have school at KVCS," he added. "This is a matter of ironing out differences of opinion on how things are structured and funded."
KVCS starts classes on Sept. 10. Hazelton said no families have withdrawn enrolled students because of the threat of closure, though there has been fallout.
About 10 people have removed their children from the waiting list for a classroom slot because of the uncertainty of the school's future, he said.
Forbess said even if no agreement is reached and KVCS appeals the termination notice to the state, the charter school's calendar year should stay largely intact.
"Our attorney said this could go through most of the year, at least up until spring," he said.