Once handed to the town for usage, have you provided for ways to extricate yourself from this arrangement? Can the town re-assign usage for the property once it is handed over?
The Board of Education has been reviewing the current enrollments and projected enrollments of the district for the next 10 years to anticipate its facilities needs over time. Hurlbutt Elementary School once housed 800+ students and currently is home to fewer than 450 students. Enrollments are projected to decline further over the next few years, also permitting the district the option in 2015-16 of moving grade 2 to the Weston Intermediate School. Reviewing all of these data, and working collaboratively with the Town, the Board of Education has been evaluating the feasibility of sharing space in the North House of Hurlbutt with the Town over the next few years, and depending upon enrollment, beyond that.
The next step in this process would be for the Board of Education to vote to approve the negotiation of a MOU with the Town for use of the first floor of the North House during 2013-14. At that point the Town would need to review what approval and funding processes it would need to complete to move forward the use of the space, as well as work with the Board to define terms of a Memorandum of Understanding.
Assuming that the Board authorizes the use of the space and that the Town intends to move forward with the use of the space, the Board of Education would craft a Memorandum of Understanding with the Town clearly outlining:
- the term of usage;
- acceptable uses of the building that do not disrupt the educational environment of Hurlbutt;
- any fees and/or utilities payments that the Town may be required to pay the District for the use of the space; and
- all services that would be provided by the BOE to maintain the building, e.g. snow plowing.
This MOU would articulate the business arrangement for use of the space by the Town. Yes, the Board does have the right to prescribe how the space may be used. The Board is not considering giving this space to the Town on a permanent basis, but sharing it at this time so that it can remain flexible in the event enrollment shifts in the future. It is the statutory responsibility of the Board of Education to provide adequate space for the educational program of the students enrolled in our system. This MOU would be reviewed each year and updated appropriately. The Board may opt to offer the space for a set number of years, but still review the MOU annually as enrollment for future classes is monitored.
The challenge of this arrangement is that the Board needs flexibility to withdraw from this arrangement if future needs warrant using that space for educational purposes, while the Town seeks a long-term commitment if it were to invest resources into the structure to retrofit the space for adult use.