District moves closer to charter school site offer
Even if the district makes an offer, it’s not sealing the deal and Dwyer said the district can always back out and not spend the money.
Dwyer sits on a charter school building committee formed during the Tuesday, June 10 meeting to ensure proper and legal steps were taken in obtaining a new facility for DMCHS.
In addition to Dwyer, the committee consists of LUHSD Superintendent Rebekah Barakos-Cartwright, Alternative Education Principal Brett Mitchell and Lassen Teacher Association Co-President John Crosby.
The board is scheduled to meet in a special meeting on Tuesday, July 29 to discuss opening escrow on the building.
Dwyer’s daughter started attending DMCHS last year and Dwyer said they both enjoyed their experience with the school.
However, Dwyer said the lack of space is a concern for both of them and her daughter has considered transferring to a different charter school.
Dwyer described the current location as a cubbyhole and said there isn’t room for a child to concentrate on their studies and get the one-on-one attention they need from a teacher.
She said the building would be a wonderful opportunity for the students.
Recently the proposed facility received contingent approval by the California Department of Education, which requires the facility to go through phase I of an environmental clearance process including a geological hazards report and a toxic examination by the Department of Toxic Substances Control.
In addition, the potential environmental impact has to be identified per California Environmental Quality Act, which has been completed. The Susanville City Planning Department has also said using the facility as a school falls within the city’s zoning laws.
During the environmental clearance process it was discovered a minor amount of oil had been dumped into a drain, which seeped into the soil within one foot of the drainpipe, which will have to be removed.
The district has publicly identified the proposed use of the facility and zoning requirements, and is holding a public hearing from Tuesday, July 8 to Friday, Aug. 8. The public has 30 days to make comments, which can be sent to the LUHSD office located at 55 Weatherlow St. or to the State Clearinghouse at P.O. Box 3044, Sacramento, CA, 95812-3044.
Based on any comments received during the 30-day period, the board is set to hold its own public hearing during the regular meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 12.
The potential purchase of a new building has caused concern among parents and teachers. They have questioned moving DMCHS and asked if there are other available facilities.
Board trustee Karen Bradbury asked Dwyer, as a realtor, if she felt there were other buildings better suited to meet the needs of DMCHS and Dwyer said there weren’t.
Due to growth, the district has been looking at moving to a new facility since last October. DMCHS, which serves Lassen, Plumas, Modoc and Sierra counties, ended the school year with 82 students.
The new facility would allow for growth and give the district an opportunity to expand its vocational program such as starting a culinary school. The new facility would also provide room for a library, a computer lab and a teachers’ lounge.
During its accreditation process, a Western Association of Schools and Colleges team visited DMCHS and recommended moving the school to a new building.
Board Clerk Jon Archer asked if the teachers were supportive of a new facility.
Mitchell said from his perspective, there was a strong message about a new facility during a community strategic planning session held on Tuesday May 6.
In addition, Phillips Edison Company, which brings in big retail clients, has purchased the Lassen Shopping Center.
Mitchell said unless DMCHS is willing to commit to a long-term agreement and pay a lot more money, the owners are not interested in DMCHS staying in its current location.
DMCHS is on a month-to-month agreement and is paying nearly $1,700 in rent. In order to stay, the district would probably be looking at a five-year commitment and only when an agreement is signed will the owners negotiate rental fees, Mitchell said.
If the district decides to purchase a new facility, it will use developer fees, which are levied on developers or other agencies when wanting to build commercial buildings or residences. The fees are only to be used for classroom expansion.
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