Sunday, October 21, 2018

Pasco County charter school seeks 15-year contract extension

Athenian Academy of Technology and the Arts has come upon the opportunity to purchase the property it has leased for the past dozen years.

To make the deal a reality, though, the Pasco County charter school needs to demonstrate financial stability to its potential lender, the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

That means having a guarantee it will continue to exist, in the form of a 15-year contract with the school district. Currently, the school is in the middle of a five-year deal the School Board approved in July 2016.

If both sides agree, state law allows the contract to be modified. The school has requested extending its agreement through 2031.

Charter board president James Mathieu told the district in a letter that action is needed fairly soon, as the school's option to purchase the land expires Dec. 31.

Otherwise, he stated, the owner has indicated plans to sell the site to a different buyer, which could put the school's future in limbo.

"We have undergone considerable instructional and programmatic changes over the last 4 years, better meeting the increased needs of the population we serve, aided by our current low facility expense," Mathieu wrote.

Athenian Academy, located in southwest Pasco, serves just under 400 students — 79 percent of whom qualify for free or reduced-priced meals. It received D and C grades from the state from 2012 through 2016. The past two years, it maintained B grades.

The district staff has placed the contract amendment on the School Board's Oct. 16 consent agenda. Such items are generally approved without discussion, unless board members remove them for additional review.

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