Notice: Undefined index: storySection in /home/santacru/public_html/story.php on line 8 Pacific Collegiate School reveals financial terms of Goldenkranz departure, lease negotiations - July 8th,2008 by J.M. BROWN
Pacific Collegiate School reveals financial terms of Goldenkranz departure, lease negotiations
J.M. BROWN - SENTINEL STAFF WRITER
Article Launched: 07/08/2008 1:00:00 AM MDT
SANTA CRUZ -- Pacific Collegiate School disclosed two pieces of financial information Monday that help to paint a clearer picture about the acclaimed charter school's search for a new leader and a new home.
Pacific Collegiate board president Deepika Shrestha Ross said former principal Andrew Goldenkranz will be paid $60,000, or about 60 percent of his annual salary, in a severance agreement reached when the board voted unanimously to accept his resignation last month. Goldenkranz, who was paid an annual salary of $103,000, will receive the severance payout in a lump sum but get no additional benefits, Ross said.
Pacific Collegiate officials and Goldenkranz have repeatedly declined to state why he agreed to leave, citing personnel privacy restrictions. However, the school's chartering administrator, county schools chief Michael Watkins, disclosed in June that the board prompted the surprise departure.
Ross also disclosed Monday that Pacific Collegiate offered to pay its landlord, Santa Cruz City Schools, an average of $125,000 per year, or about a third less in rent, to extend its lease at the former Natural Bridges Elementary site for another three years. The revelation provides the first real insight into what may have led to the failure of property negotiations between the two parties three months ago.
The financial information was disclosed as a result of public records requests filed by the Sentinel in recent weeks. Pacific Collegiate, a national-award winning school of about 400 students, is mostly funded by state tax dollars.
The Pacific Collegiate money trail will be important to follow as the nine-year-old school -- which is sitting on a $1.2 million reserve equal to nearly a third of its annual budget -- begins its search for a new principal, restructuring its administration and determining where to move after its lease expires in June 2009. The shake-ups have led to an atypical air of uncertainty for a school recently named the No. 1 charter school and No. 2 public high school in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.
The financial details are also critical to understanding why the city schools district opted not to extend PCS's lease, a controversial decision. Because 71 percent of PCS students live within the district's boundaries, the loss of state revenue for the district -- close to the budget of one elementary school -- has exacerbated its perennial declining enrollment conundrum and soured relationships between the two sides.
The district has declined to confirm exactly what amount it wanted PCS to pay to extend the lease for three years and has yet to disclose details of a recent appraisal conducted on the 35,000-square-foot property near the ocean. But the district has acknowledged that PCS's offer -- $120,000 for the first year, with a $5,000 hike each year after that -- was a quarter of what the district considered market rate.
"We thought that was unrealistic, obviously," the district's business director, Dick Moss, said Monday.
Ross, an architect who led the 10-month negotiations for PCS, said she thought the offer was fair based on a statewide assessment of what other charter schools pay to lease space from districts. To calculate a proposed rate, Ross said PCS also studied Proposition 39, which requires the district to provide space for students within its jurisdiction who choose to attend PCS -- a contentious point that will shape the battle from here on out.
Based on the fact PCS already was paying about $200,000 per year in rent, "We thought it was irrelevant that other charter schools were paying lower," Moss said.
Ross said PCS offered to pay its current rental rate, which the district also turned down.
"We were willing to continue at the current agreement's terms, even though our calculations showed that we were paying too much," Ross said.
Instead, she said, the district requested $450,000 for the first year; $470,000 for the second; and $488,000 for the third. Moss said he could not confirm specific terms of the district's offer.
Ross and other PCS officials continue to say they prefer to renegotiate or enter into mediation with the district, as opposed to leasing or buying another property. But district officials say the offers so far from PCS don't reflect that.
"They are going to have to come back with an offer a little more to our liking," Moss said.
Lawyers are now exclusively handling communications between the two sides. But in the interim, a PCS facilities committee headed by the executive director of Homeless Services Center in Santa Cruz, Ken Cole, whose two daughters will attend the school in the fall, is crafting a proposal asking the district to make provisions for PCS under Prop. 39. The district has acknowledged its obligation to review the request, but believes it can decide where to place PCS students in its jurisdiction, even if it means splitting up the charter school's population.
Meanwhile, the PCS board has appointed Shareen Bell, a Santa Cruz management consultant whose son was one of the school's first students, as a transition coordinator until an interim principal is chosen in August. Ross said Bell will be paid $150 per hour on a contract not to exceed 80 hours, or $12,000, but will not be involved in finding a replacement for former principal Goldenkranz -- a task assigned to select board members.
Bell was paid the same rate to conduct a recent audit of the school's administration, which resulted in recommendations to hire a faculty dean, part-time registrar and part-time office assistant. Ross said the school expects to announce its choice for the dean, who would be the top instructional post, this week.
Ross said Goldenkranz, a popular principal appointed in 2005, was not the target of the audit.