Charter schools, school board to work out funding

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — Members of the Indian River County School Board agreed Tuesday to move forward to find ways to help fund construction projects at four charter schools.

How much money the schools will receive and when they can expect it have yet to be determined. However, according to a study the district had commissioned, the amount could be as much as $10.8 million.

Sebastian Charter Junior High, Indian River Charter High School, North County Charter School, and St. Peter’s Academy were invited to attend a roundtable workshop with the district’s school board to address their needs. The workshop follows a needs assessment study the county commissioned last year to determine what facility needs the charter schools have. For instance, Sebastian Charter Junior High consists of 10-year-old modular buildings, which have a maximum life expectancy of 15 years. The school hopes to receive assistance from the school district to fund a permanent school building.

 

The study used a formula that consisted of averaging out the cost needs of both Sebastian Charter Junior High and Indian River Charter High with the number of students at each of the four schools.

Given the formula, the study suggests the schools should receive the following amounts of funding from the school district:

–Sebastian Charter Junior High: $2.65 million

–Indian River Charter High: $5.82 million

–North County Charter School: $1.83 million

–St. Peters Academy: $582,175

“This is very unchartered territory,” said Dr. Michael DeGutis, the district’s assistant superintendent. He explained that there are only a handful of school districts in the state that — at their own discretion — approve a portion of its capital outlay funding for its charter schools.

The School District of Indian River County is one such district. However, the district has not included its charter schools in its 5-year capital projects plan.

Capital projects are those that consist of construction and equipment and other hard costs — it does not include payroll and other related expenses.

By the end of the two-hour long discussion, school board member Karen Disney-Brombach suggested that the district consider using the study-recommended $10.8 million as a starting point.

She added that the district could look to trim approximately 12 percent from the amount — the equivalent of $1.3 million — to keep in line with the rest of the cuts the district has had to make to the rest of its capital outlay funding.

Disney-Brombach also recommended fronting between 6 and 8 percent of each school’s assessed need so the schools could have pre-build work done. Pre-build work would consist of hiring engineers and others to draft construction plans for the schools.

No decisions were made and no votes were taken during the workshop. Instead, the school board told the charter schools’ representatives that they would continue to push forward in finding funding for the schools.

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