Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Covering Dallas, Monmouth, Independence, Falls City and surrounding areas since 1868
September 25, 2012
KINGS VALLEY -- The Philomath School District and Kings Valley Charter School may soon be heading into mediation over the issue of KVCS contracting with a nonprofit for employees.
Mark Hazelton, KVCS director, said direct negotiations with the district didn't provide resolution, so the charter school suggested mediation as the next step.
Philomath agreed to have an Oregon Department of Education mediator oversee the sessions, which still need to be scheduled.
"I took that as a favorable step that they are interested in talking," Hazelton said of Philomath. "On the other hand they did not rescind closure notice."
Philomath issued a notice of intent on July 30 to close the school on Friday due to what it believed to be charter violations -- specifically a contract with the nonprofit People Sustaining Kings Valley (PSKV) to provide educational services.
The district agreed to move the charter termination date to Oct. 19 to allow for time to settle differences.
KVCS officials have maintained that the contract does not violate the school's charter and asserts the notice of intent was retaliation for a lawsuit it filed against the district seeking $179,000 in rural school funding.
PSD claims the contract violates the school's charter because employees work for the nonprofit, not the school, leaving KVCS minimal curriculum oversight. Also, the district feels the charter school should have gotten permission before pursuing the contract.
"We continue to disagree on that, so instead of taking the issue directly to the Oregon Department of Education, we agreed to go into mediation," said Philomath Superintendent Dan Forbess. "The simple solution would be to cancel the contract, move staff back to school employment, then try to figure out cost saving through a contract."
Forbess said the district's previous offer to share the rural school funding evenly would make up for cost increases the charter school would have to cover. KVCS has stated the contract saves the school $80,000 per year in PERS costs.
Kings Valley also is scheduled for a hearing before the
Philomath School Board on Oct. 8 to present its case for keeping the contract. Hazelton said the school would only use that option if mediation failed or wasn't complete.
Hazelton said he would like to see mediation offer both sides a chance to clearly present their case.
"In mediation we would hope to get to the legal issues," he said. "There is some hope they want to resolve this."