Pasco School Board places Charter Schools USA on notice over contract talks
Pasco County School Board members only reluctantly approved an application by Charter Schools USA in October to open a new charter school in the county. They gave the nod because of new state laws that essentially required they move forward, and said they would hash out whatever concerns they had during contract negotiations.
Now the contract could die without any negotiations.
District officials handed over a proposed contract in early December, setting off a 75-day clock to complete talks. On Feb. 7, Charter Schools USA indicated it would like to defer contract negotiations until fall 2012. Three days later, the group's board chairman requested deferring the school's opening until 2013. Two weeks later, the group renewed its request to postpone contract talks until the fall.
The staff recommended accepting the idea of putting off the school opening, but not the contract talks, and giving Charter Schools USA two weeks to respond. School Board attorney Dennis Alfonso said the board could take a hard line stance that the company had not responded to the contract proposal and the 75 days had passed, so it could simply say the contract is dead.
"The 14 days is to give the benefit of the doubt we would give to any applicant," he said.
Board vice chairwoman Cynthia Armstrong said the board should approve the staff recommendation.
The board approved them under current statute, she said, and "it would seem like it would be appropriate to negotiate a contract in that same atmosphere. ... If we delay the contract negotiations, we might be looking at doing it under different statute."
The board unanimously voted to give Charter Schools USA two weeks to negotiate its contract for a school in Pasco County.