Santa Cruz school board OKs tentative agreement with PCS
J.M. BROWN - SENTINEL STAFF WRITER
Article Launched: 12/11/2008 1:00:00 AM MST
SANTA CRUZ -- After months of uncertainty about where Pacific Collegiate School would make its home next school year, Santa Cruz City Schools trustees unanimously agreed Wednesday to tentatively accept an offer from the charter school to continue leasing a Westside site.
Vice President Ken Wagman, who was elected president Wednesday, announced that trustees instructed Superintendent Alan Pagano in closed session to finalize details of a use agreement with PCS to be approved in a future board vote.
Until the boards of both organizations finalize the terms, officials declined to publicly disclose specific points of the most recent offer PCS made to stay at the district's former Natural Bridges Elementary site.
Officials had disclosed earlier that the proposed fee is higher than the $275,000 PCS paid during the final year of a five-year lease ending in June, but lower than the $425,000 first requested by the district as a fair-market rate. The length of the lease is closer to the one or two years sought by the district.
"We're happy to be moving forward to the next step," PCS board President Deepika Shrestha Ross said outside the meeting. "Our students deserve it and our staff deserve it."
However, Ross said, "the devil is in the details" and she hoped the district and PCS could work out the remainder of the concerns in person. The two sides have been communicating through lawyers during two rounds of offers.
Pagano said he would contact PCS today through the district's lawyer, but was unsure how meetings would be structured. He said he hoped to have a final deal ready for a board vote Jan. 14.
"We want to put this behind us," he said, adding that the tentative agreement is a "considerate effort" on the district's part to keep PCS "intact over the next couple of years."
Wednesday's development appeared to be the beginning of the end to a long dispute that left PCS students and teachers wondering where they would report in the fall. PCS also submitted a Proposition 39 request for state facilities in October, which would be withdrawn for the term of a market lease.
Also Wednesday, Wagman, who won a second term in November, was sworn in along with Trustee John Collins and new member Claudia Vestal, who were appointed to seats after no one ran against them.
Felix Robles left the board after 12 years of service. The meeting was Pagano's last as the full-time superintendent. He will serve as interim leader until June.