Riverview Charter rejects attendance caps in proposed Shell Point lease

Flickr user Leo Reynolds
No matter the style or color, Riverview Charter doesn't want any limits drawn.

Riverview Charter School is getting closer and yet further to leasing the 67,770 square feet of space it desires in the form of the soon-to-be closed Shell Point Elementary.

The charter school's leadership voted to largely accept the Beaufort County School Board's offer, but balked at proposed attendance caps, something that has already been a large source of debate as each student the charter school enrolls costs the district some $8,000 in funding.

Below are details by was of an update from the charter school:

In the most recent lease proposal to Riverview, the Board of Education introduced a "cap" on the number of students Riverview may enroll while occupying the Shell Point facility, as well as how those students must be configured across grade levels. While the proposed "total occupancy" numbers mirror the enrollment numbers upheld by a Federal Court's ruling in favor of Riverview, 456 students for 2012-13 and 494 for 2013-14, the Board's desire to dictate how those students are distributed steps beyond the judge's verdict and the District's authority.

Riverview was delighted when approached by Superintendent Truesdale last fall with this potential partnership, and the Charter School remains hopeful that the Board of Education will accept the lease proposal without the occupancy caps. Riverview believes that the lease agreement is mutually beneficial to Riverview, Beaufort County School District, and the Beaufort community. Under current state code, Shell Point Elementary School, constructed in 1958, would be at risk of needing substantial renovations if not used as a school for two years or more. Riverview's use of the building extends the facility's viability for future use by BCSD while providing Riverview with a larger temporary home until it can raise the funds needed for its permanent facility.

"We're hopeful that the Board of Education will not continue to use the lease negotiations as an attempt to impact our operational planning and enrollment." said Mike Freeman, Riverview's Board Chairman. "The lease agreement is not the proper forum for negotiation of our future enrollment, and we are unwilling to allow BCSD to unilaterally limit our future growth and expansion at the expense of alienating the community that has expressed such a strong interest in our program. Such a limitation is not in keeping with the long term plans of our charter, nor is it in the best interests of the families and students we serve." 

The school district is already working on an appeal of the judge's ruling on the attendance cap numbers.

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