Janesville School District looks into buying a building
JANESVILLE The Janesville School District will take a look at avoiding lease payments by buying a building for its charter schools.
A school board committee discussed the idea at a meeting Tuesday night.
The idea is a long way from being a plan, but the committee instructed the administration to come up with a detailed description of what an ideal building would look like.
The discussion focused on:
-- Rock River Charter School, housed in the first two floors of 31 W. Milwaukee St., with an annual lease cost of $52,815.
-- TAGOS Leadership Academy at Arrow Park on North Parker Drive.
-- The Truancy Abatement and Transitional Education Center, also at Arrow Park. The annual lease for both Arrow Park programs costs $139,977.
-- The Janesville Virtual Academy at Jefferson Elementary School, a building the district owns.
Board member Kevin Murray brought up the idea of buying a building after the administration asked to lease the third floor on Milwaukee Street to expand the Rock River Charter School.
The administration projects that increased enrollments at Rock River could bring in enough state aid to pay for the expansion—and more.
The third floor would cost another $32,400 a year, for a grand total of $236,522 in annual lease payments.
But buying a building would also involve costs of remodeling, bringing the building up to codes, equipment, furniture and wiring, said Keith Pennington, chief financial officer for the district.
Parking, floor space and access to public transportation also are considerations, Pennington said.
Pennington said principals also should be consulted to find out what would they would require and what features they would like to see.
With the potential third floor included, the leased space would come to 24,175 square feet. Board member Deborah Schilling said room for future expansion should be added to that figure.
Schilling said she would like to buy a building that ends all the lease payments, not just some of them.
Board member Peter Severson noted that the district's budget has been difficult to balance in recent years, so coming up with the money to buy a building could be a challenge.
Greg Ardrey, chairman of the buildings and grounds/finance committee, said the next step should be preparation of detailed description of what an ideal building would include, to be reviewed by the committee next month.
Pennington said his people would get to work on it.
The school board has yet to decide what to do with administration's proposal to expand Rock River Charter School starting in September.
Buying a commercial building and turning it into a school could take months, so if the school board ultimately votes to buy a building, the opening date could be later than next September.
Federal breakfast program to start
The Janesville School District will move ahead with plans to replace volunteer-powered breakfast clubs with a federally funded breakfast program.
School board member Kevin Murray made a final plea for the clubs at a meeting Tuesday.
Churches and other groups have run the breakfast clubs at some schools for many years.
The school board's buildings and grounds/finance committee on Tuesday listened to Murray but did not agree.
Arguments by the administration, especially about the potential for harm to students and legal liability, seemed to sway members.
Committee members did agree with Murray that they'd like to see details of how breakfast would be delivered at each school. Members voted to have the administration present a report to the board when it meets Jan. 29. Changes go into effect Jan. 28.
Board member Peter Severson said the administration had handled the change poorly, and he appealed to breakfast club workers to continue volunteering.
"I will apologize for how things kind of turned out, but your service is greatly needed by our kids," Severson said.