Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Final details could snag new Pasco charter school

Pepin Academies runs a charter school in Tampa, shown here.

Times (2012)

Pepin Academies runs a charter school in Tampa, shown here.

Plans for Pepin Academies to open a new charter school in Pasco County next fall are not yet a done deal.

Confusion reigned in the days after the Pasco School Board appeared to have approved Pepin's 15-year contract, as district officials tried to reconstruct exactly what board members left undone.

Before voting on the contract, individual members said they sought an amendment indicating that if Pepin — a school that serves students with disabilities — does not make progress toward financing on a new school building within three years, the term would be shortened. Superintendent Kurt Browning said Pepin officials told him they wanted a 15-year deal so they could secure construction loans.

Barbara Wilhite, the lawyer representing Pepin, encouraged the board not to be so strict. The charter school might enter a long-term lease for a building developed to its own specifications, she explained.

That's where the fuzziness arose.

Board member Allen Altman sounded amenable to allowing such an arrangement. Chairwoman Alison Crumbley, by contrast, said she was okay with the longer contract "as long as there is no leasing involved."

Others chimed in. They said a long-term contract required a long-term commitment from Pepin.

But they never cemented their intent as they voted for the contract, as amended.

"It really wasn't that clear when we finished," Crumbley admitted.

That left board attorney Dennis Alfonso to figure out what the "something more" that the board requested might be. He intends to have language ready for a Feb. 18 meeting, and doesn't want to spring it on anyone.

But the resulting wording could, in theory, squash the longer contract, which in turn could affect Pepin's plans. Pepin representatives did not return calls seeking comment.

"The contract is still not complete," Alfonso said. "It's coming back to the board. The 15 years is a qualified 15 years."

He suggested that the district needs to craft contract terms that make clear why Pepin is getting treatment different from other county charter schools, none of which have deals longer than five years. If Pepin needs the longer agreement for construction financing, he said, that might be a reasonable stance.

Alfonso said he might recommend that the 15 years be tied to Pepin's progress in holding title to school property within three years.

If the group, which already operates in Hillsborough County without a 15-year contract, simply seeks to enter into a lease agreement, though, that could pose problems.

"Why would there be the need for 15 years if it's build to lease?" board member Joanne Hurley said during the debate. "You could just go out and lease a building."

Hurley voted against the 15-year contract.

Classical Preparatory School, another new charter, plans to open in the same Quail Ridge subdivision as Pepin and is leasing property under its own five-year contract.

Crumbley and vice chairman Steve Luikart both said in the days after the vote that they expected Pepin to own its property in exchange for the lengthy deal.

"They have to show they are building something," Luikart said. "Not just the lease of a storefront."

Alfonso expected to meet with Wilhite in the coming week to attempt to write an amendment that satisfies the district and the charter school.

Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at [email protected]

Final details could snag new Pasco charter school 02/07/14 [Last modified: Friday, February 7, 2014 7:06pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. City Council approves $5 million for Clearwater Marine Aquarium expansion

    Briefs

    CLEARWATER — The City Council on Thursday approved contributing $5 million to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium for its massive expansion project.

    Clearwater has agreed to contributed $5 million to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium 
's $66 million expansion project.. [ Clearwater Marine Aquarium] 


  2. This unidentified man was punched outside of Richard Spencer's speech in Gainesville.
  3. Pentagon faces demands for details on deadly attack in Niger

    Military

    WASHINGTON — The Trump administration had no answers Thursday to key questions two weeks after an ambush in the African nation of Niger killed four U.S. soldiers, prompting demands in Congress for details, complaints of Pentagon stonewalling and a comparison to the 2012 Benghazi attack. The White House defended …

    In this image provided by the U.S. Army, a carry team of soldiers from the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), carry the transfer case during a casualty return for Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright, of Lyons, Ga., at Dover Air Force Base, Del., Oct. 5, 2017. U.S. and Niger forces were leaving a meeting with tribal leaders when they were ambushed on Oct. 4 and Wright and three other soldiers were killed. There were about a dozen U.S. troops and a company of Niger forces, for a total of about 40 service members in the joint mission. [Pfc. Lane Hiser | U.S. Army via AP]
  4. Trigaux: Florida, Tampa Bay lagging in growth of their startups

    Economic Development

    The annual assessment of how entrepreneurs are doing across the country is out from the Kauffman Foundation — among the best watchers of the nation's startup scene. How do Florida and Tampa Bay fare?

    Lured by financial incentives, startup GeniusCentral relocated from Manatee County in 2015 to St. Petersburg, promising to creatye 40 new jobs. It took downtown space in an appropriately creative workpace for entrepreneurs. It did not last there, later moving back to less expensive space in Manatee. A new Kauffman Index report on entrepreneurship found that Florida is a good place to launch startups but a tougher place to grow them.
[SCOTT KEELER    |      TIMES]
  5. Rick Baker revises controversial radio ad, Rick Kriseman's campaign says former mayor is "dishonest" and "desperate"

    Blogs

    Rick Baker’s campaign has revised a controversial radio ad that had incorrectly stated Mayor Rick Kriseman hadn’t “bothered to show up” at a NAACP event earlier this month.

    Mayor Rick Kriseman says former mayor Rick Baker is dishonest and desperate for airing a radio ad that has since been revised