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Schoolhouse rent

Charters could be charged for space in KPBSD buildings

Posted: June 3, 2014 - 9:29pm  |  Updated: June 3, 2014 - 9:38pm

Rent is a common expense for tenants and businesses. Soon some local schools could also be budgeting for it.

At a Monday afternoon workshop, the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education discussed the possibility of charter schools paying for space and services provided by the district.

KPBSD is considering charging for rent based on classroom square footage and on a per student basis for in-kind services — property, liability and workers compensations insurances and audit, utilities, custodial and maintenance costs.

Three of the four of the operating charter schools — Aurora Borealis, Kaleidoscope and Soldotna Montessori are housed wholly within school district buildings. Fireweed Academy in Homer is in two locations, one of which is in West Homer Elementary School.

Assistance Superintendant Dave Jones said he’d like to see rent based on classroom space because if the district charges based on shared spaces like libraries, costs will change annually.

He said the district will report back to the board in July with how the charter schools could be charged and what potential rates could be.

“I guess what I can tell you is, the rate is going to be lower than market value, but I don’t know what it’s going to be,” Jones said to the board.

He said he would like to charge one rate for all the charters, but he’s not a “miracle worker.”

While the district has been sharing in-kind services with the charter schools, it has not officially allocated costs to them.

During fiscal year 2014, in-kind service costs totaled $7.3 million. The biggest service cost is maintenance at $7 million. Insurance totaled $1.9 million bringing total in-kind services to $9.1 million.

Jones said one school should not be charged for maintenance. Little Fireweed Academy is not housed in a district building, so the district does not maintain that school. Jones said he figured the cost before factoring in the students at Little Fireweed, so numbers are slightly off. But, he figured the district can charge the charters $754,000 for in-kind services.

House Bill 278 passed by the Alaska Legislature calls for charters to receive a portion of the additional allowable funding. That funding comes from the Kenai Peninsula Borough. The minimum local contribution is $23.6 million. The additional allowable is the money the borough allocates to the district in addition to the minimum.

“We’re going to give them the revenue that comes from the additional allowable,” Jones said. “But then we’re going to charge them back for the in-kind because it’s an actual benefit that we give them. They’ve been getting that benefit we just haven’t been officially recognizing it on the books.”

Kaylee Osowski can be reached at kaylee.osowski@peninsulaclarion.com

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