PCS holds facilities forum

*** Update ***

Forum postponed by PCS.  No date or reason provided.

Members of the community are welcome to attend the latest PCS forum concerning facilities. The event will be held at the 255 Swift Street campus, “C” pod, Wednesday February 25, 2009 at 6:30 p.m.

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It’s done

Our thoughts to follow. In the interim, here’s the Sentinel story.

“We are finished with the negotiations”

Fingers crossed, this epic may come to a close tonight as the boards meet simultaneously, just a few blocks apart. If the agreement is accepted in closed session, then it is likely  that specific terms will be made public.

Bets are that the final upshot will be that PCS will pay more for a shorter term than if they had simply extended the FUA one year ago. Without their self-serving interpretation of Prop 39 – claiming all of the benefits and none of responsibilities – they could have had a straightforward renewal.

We’re anxious to see the final wording, holding out hope that SCCS held the line on behalf of all districts in California by not allowing PCS to cherry pick elements of Prop 39 applied to an open market lease.

Here’s the story.

“We’re so close to the finish line”

says Ken Cole, lead negotiator for PCS in an article published January 10.  According to the Sentinel, the district has requested a response in time to be ratified at their regular meeting on Wednesday, January 14.  PCS has the item scheduled for closed session discussion at both their Long Range Facilities meeting on the morning of the 13th and again during their board meeting, which coincides with the district’s Wednesday evening.  Optimists would hope that the Sunday meeting with their attorney would be sufficient for PCS to close the deal and they will respond in time to bring this issue to an end before Wednesday.

Ping Pong 101

So, the District accepted PCS’s last offer on December 10th (see press release below) and asked PCS to seal the deal by December 17th (per today’s article).  PCS responds on the 19th, when SCCS is out for the Winter Break, with a modified offer requiring yet another round of closed session negotiations including a meeting this Thursday. Following the chain of events, it would appear that PCS countered their own offer that had already been accepted by SCCS.

Fascinating.

We also found this post by “mbj” on the Sentinel forum of interest:

…There are lots of details in any rental agreement that also have to be settled. Someone at SCCS is intent on completely discarding the language and basis of the existing use agreement…

One wonders how “mbj” came by this information, not disclosed in any article or minutes from any pubic proceeding.   This is not the first time that PCS associates on that forum have flirted with violations of  closed session negotiations and loose interpretation of the Brown Act.

To sum, SCCS was ready to lock in a lease agreement for the Natural Bridges site with a vote of its board on January 14th. Now PCS sends back an offer with “sticking points” and a request to postpone final approval until January 23rd, or six weeks after SCCS already accepted an offer from PCS.

Updated: We note another post from “mbj” that includes these comments:

SCCS responded to the last PCS offer not by accepting the offer, but by throwing in some new small, but important additional conditions on the use agreement. The additional conditions were so vague that the associated costs (to PCS) were not even determinable.

The details of these negotiations are still a matter for closed session for both parties.  “mbj” is a either member of the PCS board and/or negotiating team and is disclosing this information in a public forum or this information was provided to “mbj” by a PCS board member and/or member of the negotiating team.

The silence is deafening

Not so sure the adage “no news is good news” applies here.  We know the SCCS board returned what amounts to an acceptance of the PCS counter-offer over a week ago.  The PCS Facilities negotiating team and full board have met in the intervening days with no report of action taken.  What could be the hold up? Do they intend to counter their own counter offer? Is there dissention within their leadership?

School is out for SCCS as of today.  It’s unfortunate that PCS, so adamant in the demand to re-open talks over the Natural Bridges campus, was unable to bring this issue to a close before the holiday break.

District signals that agreement is near

Sentinel story

District press release:

Santa Cruz City Schools District Nears Agreement on Lease with PCS

Agreement Would Deliver Additional Funds for SCCS Student Achievement;
Provide Facilities Flexibility to Address SCCS Enrollment Increase

SANTA CRUZ, CA—Santa Cruz City Schools (SCCS) District today announced its Board of Trustees has given District staff direction to move forward and finalize a facilities use agreement (FUA) with Pacific Collegiate School (PCS) for the District’s Natural Bridges Elementary School campus.

The District hailed the potential agreement as a fiscal and facilities win for SCCS students because the FUA would replace the current under-valued lease agreement with a market-rate agreement, delivering short-term revenues to support the District’s 7,000 students; the FUA also provides SCCS flexibility in long-term facility planning to accommodate the District’s growing elementary school population.

“We are very pleased with this potential outcome,” said Superintendent Alan Pagano.  “With this agreement, SCCS would meet its twin goals of protecting revenue in the current state budget crisis and retaining flexibility in order to meet the steady growth in enrollment at our elementary schools.  This potential agreement would also better position the District to weather the state’s fiscal crisis and preserve taxpayer funds intended to support the classroom.”

“This would clearly be a win-win agreement,” said Board President Cynthia Hawthorne.  “Santa Cruz City Schools’ students and their parents, as well as the educators and taxpayers who support them, will truly benefit from this agreement. This agreement also would provide PCS a bridge to resolve their long term facility needs, while keeping their students together in one location.”

Next Steps
Following approval from the PCS board, details of the agreement will be worked out and the agreement will come back to the SCCS Board of Trustees for final approval.  Pending its approval, the FUA would supercede PCS’s application for secondary schools facilities under Proposition 39.  A PCS Proposition 39 request would necessarily divide the school by providing space only for the 56% of PCS’s student body residing within the SCCS district boundaries.

Background & Timeline on the Lease Negotiations
• 2004: SCCS (landlord) & PCS (tenant) agree to 5-year FUA for Natural Bridges Elementary School campus; average annual rent $200,000 (graduated yearly from $175,000 in 2004 to $275,000 in 2008)
• November 2007: Negotiations open for 3-year renewal of FUA

o PCS, using self-determined formula, offers 3-year average of $125,000
o SCCS, using professional appraisal of public school property seeks 3-year average of $420,000

• March 31, 2008: Negotiations conclude without resolution; PCS to vacate campus June 30, 2009
• April 1, 2008: PCS provides an informal offer of $200,000
• October 1, 2008: PCS files first-ever application for secondary school facilities under Proposition 39
• November 12, 2008: SCCS notifies PCS of willingness to consider reasonable offer for Natural Bridges campus
• December 10, 2008: SCCS Board of Trustees directs District staff to move forward to finalize new FUA

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