The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District and the Voznesenka Community Council, Inc., have not yet reached a lease agreement for the upcoming school year for the buildings that house the village school’s students.
Changes in the assessed fair market value and summer fish runs have postponed mutual approval of a new contract.
“Most of the village is out fishing and won’t be back until the end of July,” said Homer-based attorney Lindsay Wolter, who is representing the community council.
Wolter said she did not want to speak on behalf of the community council, whose members are away for work.
“They are commercial fishermen,” said Board of Education member Sunni Hilts. “This is the time you fish.”
The previous one-year lease expired on July 1, and acted as a placeholder until the school district and the community council could reach a long-term agreement — hopefully by the start of the school year on Aug. 19, said school district spokesperson Pegge Erkeneff.
“It is definitely our hope that we will reach a long-term lease,” Erkeneff said. “We have conducted a market analysis that will hopefully guide us to an agreement, and look forward to a meeting in the next couple of weeks. Members of the VCC (community council) are currently unavailable due to fishing, but we continue to work on the situation.”
The last lease agreement that went from 2009-2014 cost $5,750 per month for the 6,068 square feet of building space, according to a Board of Education report submitted by Assistant Superintendent Dave Jones. That broke down to $0.95 per square foot monthly for those five years. During the 2014-2015 school year the cost of leasing increased to $1.25 per square foot “plus an additional $1,000 per month for water,” according to the report.
“KPBSD entered into this one-year agreement so as not to disrupt education services for the students and stipulated that a new lease for the future be negotiated by April 1, 2015,” according to the report.
The school district was waiting on the council to contract Soldotna-based Derry & Associates to conduct a market analysis of the property to assess the value, according to the report. The analysis had not been completed or requested by April 1, so the school district contacted the company and received the results on May 27.
Derry & Associates assessed the fair market value at $1.05 per square foot and $1.00 per square foot for “bathroom related space,” according to the report.
“The requested lease cost was part of the District’s concern about arriving at a fair market value for the facility,” Erkeneff said.
A fair market value is based upon how other lease agreements are developed for similar properties, Erkeneff said.
The board monitors most lease agreements along with many of the school district’s financial decisions, Hilts said. Since the Voznesenka School uses more than one building, it is considered a larger lease, compared to leasing a vehicle for example, she said.
“The school district and the community are committed to the fact that school will open on time,” Hilts said. “They are not going to close it down if they don’t have an agreement.”
Reach Kelly Sullivan at firstname.lastname@example.org