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Ravenswood school district, KIPP charter school reach facilities-rental agreement

KIPP to stay at Brentwood, Los Robles/McNair, will pay district much more

In an eleventh-hour agreement, lawyers for the Ravenswood City School District and KIPP Valiant Community Prep Charter School reached a contract on Thursday night to expand the growing charter school at its current two school sites. The district's Board of Education voted unanimously to accept the terms hours later.

KIPP will lease 25 classrooms and additional indoor and outdoor joint-use spaces for one year starting this summer. In return, the district will receive nearly $400,000 in 112 installments, more than three times what KIPP paid for use of 18 classrooms this year.

The agreement comes at a time when the district is seeing declining enrollment and flat revenues that are expected to continue dropping in the next two years. The district anticipates it could face a deficit of $1 million to $2.5 million through the 2021-2022 school year, interim Superintendent Gina Sudaria said during a presentation Thursday about the district's finances.

KIPP is currently located at the contiguous Brentwood and Los Robles/Ronald McNair school sites and wanted to have a long-term, single campus starting this fall. Under state Proposition 39, public school districts are required to provide fair and reasonable facilities to charter schools, including classrooms, libraries, administrative offices, playgrounds and restrooms. California Education Code requires districts to provide charter schools with "contiguous" campuses if the district can't accommodate all of the charter's needs on one campus.

By this fall, KIPP plans to enroll 550 elementary and middle school students -- 150 more than this year. Eventually, it plans to enroll up to 610 students when it includes an eighth grade by 2021.

Under Thursday's one-year agreement, KIPP will lease the facilities from July 1, 2019, through June 30, 2020. The charter school will pay the district $392,867, more than three times the expected facilities-use rate for this year but far below the district's previous estimated cost in February of more than $1 million. KIPP said in a March letter and counter-proposal that the sum was excessive. The district will cover costs for all utilities for the charter school.

KIPP will lease 24,368 square feet of indoor space, including 25 classrooms: 15 classrooms at Brentwood, plus student restrooms and a staff restroom, and 10 classrooms at Los Robles/Ronald McNair, plus student restrooms. At McNair, KIPP will have also have a separate entrance gate near the gym.

The district and KIPP would share 242,764 square feet of other indoor and outdoor spaces. At Brentwood, the shared spaces include blacktop and play space, outdoor field and grass areas, water fountains and common walkways.

Shared spaces at Los Robles/McNair will include the play area/blacktop, grass areas, water fountains, staff restrooms, exterior student restrooms, multipurpose room and gym, food-service spaces, eating space and other administrative meeting spaces as available.

The charter school would not use the interior quad/courtyard at Los Robles/McNair.

Board President Tamara Sobomehin thanked agreement negotiators for their hard work and said the board understood it was a long and complicated process.

Elizabeth Mori, an Oakland attorney representing the district, said the agreement didn't get finalized until after 5 p.m. Thursday.

Mori said that the substantial increase in revenue is due in part to the cost charged to KIPP for facilities use. Under the prior contract, the school district billed the charter school up to 2% of the charter school's revenue for facilities use; under the new contract, KIPP will pay a "pro-rata" share. To reach the agreed-to sum, staff took the time to measure all rooms and the sites, she said. The alternative is allowed under state law governing charter schools.

The agreement also prevents KIPP from later suing or challenging the district for not providing "adequate" facilities should the 25 classrooms and other facilities not be enough for its needs next year.

The decision to keep KIPP at the current schools is a departure from the board's preliminary proposal in February to offer KIPP space at both Brentwood and the new Ravenswood Middle School, where its students would share space with that school’s students. That idea was opposed by both the charter school and teachers and students at the district school.

KIPP's counter-proposal, made in March, asked for more space at the charter school's existing locations.

"Our counter-proposal is an equitable split between KIPP and the district based on our respective enrollment figures for next year," Adam Kaye, director of real estate for KIPP Bay Area Public Schools, wrote in a March 11 letter to Sudaria. "Our proposal also minimizes disruption for the district ... and avoids the disruption to Ravenswood Middle School by moving us onto that campus."

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