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Sauvie Island Academy seeks to avoid rent hike

Contract with Scappoose Schools expires next year


by: SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: MARK MILLER - The Sauvie Island Academy, which occupies the building that previously housed the defunct Sauvie Island School.Sauvie Island Academy officials said Monday, Sept. 16, they expect to debate the amount the charter school pays to lease the building it occupies in contract renewal negotiations with the Scappoose School District.

The school board for the academy, which serves kindergarten through eighth grade, resolved last month to work toward renewing its three-year contract with the district. That contract is set to expire next summer.

At Monday evening’s board meeting, board treasurer Matt Brubaker said relations between the Sauvie Island Academy and the Scappoose School District are generally positive, but he expects they may disagree on “mostly financial stuff” in hammering out a new deal.

“The money thing is the main thing,” Brubaker said in response to a question from Matt Fields, who chairs the board. “The only thing that concerns me, and I think that’s going to be the biggest struggle from what I can see is going to be rent and just the lease, basically.”

Under the contract that took effect in 2011, the Sauvie Island Academy pays about $2,911 per month to lease the building it occupies, which is the former home of the now-defunct Sauvie Island School. It pays an additional amount to rent a modular building that houses middle school classes. Combined, the yearly rent paid to the Scappoose School District is $44,540.

“I don’t think, when it comes down to it, that they will jack things up too much, because I know that they want us to be successful,” Brubaker said.

Darla Meeuwsen, the academy’s executive director, said after the meeting that she hopes to avoid an increase in the lease.

“Our hopes are they will be able to see some of the upgrades that we’ve done to the building by being here,” said Meeuwsen. “We’ve put in new plumbing and new wiring, those kinds of things, that behooves them and makes it more livable for us.”

Meeuwsen said her administration would ideally like to see certain changes in the contract to benefit the school, such as “equitable pay” in per-student funding from the district relative to its other public schools.

Although Meeuwsen spoke of that change in funding more as a wish-list item than as a firm negotiating position, she remarked, “It never hurts to ask.”

According to Brubaker, the Sauvie Island Academy school board plans to submit its letter of intent to pursue a new contract with the district next month.

Scappoose School District Superintendent Stephen Jupe said Wednesday it is too early in the process to comment on how the district might approach contract negotiations.

“Right now, we’re at the very, very initial stages of thinking about ... beginning to do the contract renewal process, so we haven’t, even as a team, even talked to each other about what we might present,” Jupe said.

A new contract between the academy and the district would not take effect until the next school year.