VACAVILLE — The law is the law.
Despite that simple board member statement, the passage of a facilities use agreement between the Vacaville School District and Kairos Public School Vacaville Academy didn’t come without some hefty grumbling and complaining from the governing board Thursday night before approving the agreement 5-2.
Focal point of the lengthy conversation, which led to the dissenting votes of Jerry Eaton and Whit Whitman, was loss of district enrollment and state money, and a charter school law – 2000 Proposition 39 – that calls for school districts to supply independent charter schools with facilities equal to district students should the request be made.
“I don’t agree with the law, in fact, it’s a bad law,” Whitman said.
Board member David McCallum said he didn’t agree with the law either, but said “it is the law.”
“They’re here,” he said of Kairos. “Get used to it. I want to start a relationship with Kairos on a positive note . . .”
The former Elm Elementary School site hasn’t been used as a school since 2004 but currently houses the district’s Independent Study Program and a Solano County Office of Education program.
Board member Chris Flask acknowledged the issue as a sensitive one and said he “fully understands where all the board members are coming from,” but said he sees things from a different angle.
“I keep hearing this language about our students and their students. They’re all our students . . . we want to do the best for these kids,” he said. “We’re bringing back (the Elm Elementary School site) to serve kids . . . what (more) do you want for a school?”
To not comply with the law could lead to the lawsuit, the district’s attorney said during the meeting.
Should the agreement not have passed, a lawsuit was not the direction Kairos co-founder Jared Austin said they wanted to go. He said after the meeting he wasn’t fazed by the board’s conversation but rather was looking forward to working with them.
“I work in the charter world, we’re used to the heat,” he said, laughing.
First up for Austin is submitting paperwork for a charter school grant that calls for matching funds, half of which will be paid by the district if approved. Austin said they’re asking for $2 million to $4 million – the facilities agreement calls for Kairos to foot start-up and usage costs. And, if approved, bringing the school up to code with the Americans with Disabilities Act will be included in its costs.
Any money granted won’t be seen until October – the school is slated to open for the 2014-15 school year.
In the meantime, Austin said, “We’ll make it work and make it sparkle as best as we can.”
Reach Susan Winlow at 427-6955 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/swinlowdr.