School District, Voznesenka agree on lease

Voznesenka School will remain open next fall.

After nearly two years of talks, the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District and the Voznesenka Community Council Inc., signed a 5-year building lease Monday. Assistant Superintendent Dave Jones updated the Board of Education on the resolution during a scheduled worksession.

“One good thing is that Zen (board member John Kelly) got involved,” Jones said.

Kelly represents residents in Homer, Nanwalek, Port Graham, Seldovia and the Russian Old Believer villages on East End Road. Jones said the board member’s presence added to recent discussions by providing assurances to the Voznesenka community that the school district wanted to continue to offer classes at the school.

“I just showed up and smiled,” Kelly said. “That’s all I did.”

For more than three months, a single sticking point, the cost of water, held up negotiations. VCCI originally requested an additional $1,000 monthly for potable water the Voznesenka Water Utility Inc., was supplying to the leased buildings. In early 2016, VCCI dropped the request to $750.

The school district was also delivering bottled water to the school, and spent $2,800 annually on the purchases, Jones said. The school district agreed to eliminate the additional source of water, and will pay VCCI roughly $234 per month, or $2,800 annually with the newly freed funds, he said.

It was a “last, best effort to get an agreement,” Jones said.

The payments for water will not begin until July 1, he said.

The lease includes the $1.05 per-square-foot value determined in the 2015 appraisal completed by Soldotna-based Derry & Associates Inc., and a 2 percent annual escalator, Jones said.

Board members responded favorably to the agreement, but asked why they were not required to sign off on the lease before it was finalized. Jones said traditionally the lease has not been put before the board for approval largely because it is an item that is already budgeted for each year.

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