Letter to BOE Re: Sale of District Building to Belmont Charter Operators

May 28, 2019

Dear President Wilkerson and Members of the Board,

We are writing to you about the impending sale of a District owned building to the operators of Belmont Charter School.

The first public disclosure of the proposed sale of 4030 Brown Street came at the May 16 Finance and Facilities Committee Meeting. Apparently the District had already entered into negotiations with Michael Karp and the other members of the Board of Belmont Charter. Belmont has made an offer of $2.8 million, of which the District would net about $1 million.

Belmont’s operators have told the District that it will be creating a non-profit that would buy the property and lease it to Belmont. Should the sale be approved, the Board of Education would be assisting this charter in creating yet another circular lease agreement, common in the charter sector, by which the charter’s financial partners can further insulate themselves from District oversight.

What we did not hear was any reason why the District should sell this public property.
Is it only because that is what Belmont’s operators want?

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Ears on the Board of Education: May 29, 2019

by Diane Payne

APPS will keep calling out the Board on its lack of transparency until the members acknowledge that true community engagement cannot be accomplished by withholding public documents. Placing four binders on a table in the rear of the auditorium with a warning in red–”DO NOT REMOVE BINDERS FROM TABLE”–means that those who come to the meeting and want to follow the proceedings would have to stand in the back of the room for the entire meeting. The usual announcement that materials are available online is insulting and insensitive. As one parent activist reminded the Board last week, many families do not have online access.  And for those who do–are we supposed to memorize the entire agenda and all 85 Action Items? The Board is voting on Items that affect the future of the community and allot millions in taxpayer spending. This is not transparency and it is not public inclusion. Is the Board’s answer to just bring your computer (if you don’t have one–too bad) and balance it on your knees if you want the full descriptions about how they spend tens of millions of taxpayer dollars?

All meeting materials and videos from this and every meeting can be found on the SDP website, Board of Education page.

Present

All nine Board members were present as were the two student representatives.  Hill-Freedman World Academy provided the student musical presentation. As always, the talent and dedication of the students and their music teachers was inspiring and impressive.

The Minutes of the April 25, 2019 Action Meeting were approved.

A total of 54 speakers, 80 Action Items, and 6 Intermediate Unit Action Items presaged a long night.  Ten of these speakers were students. The initiative and commitment these young people exhibit in coming before the Board to share their concerns and demands is heartening. Seven members of APPS attended and six members testified in defense of public education.

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