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‘Positive’ progress in talks on charter renewal

KCSD, SVRCS officials to continue dialogue

MILL HALL — Prior to Thursday night’s Keystone Central school board meeting, representatives from the Keystone Central School District and Sugar Valley Rural Charter School reported a positive initial dialogue regarding a charter extension for SVRCS.

In an email sent to media outlets early Thursday morning, a news release stated that there was a Wednesday meeting between the two parties. Although the email was sent from a KCSD address, it stated that it was sent on behalf of KCSD superintendent Jacquelyn Martin and SVRCS CEO Tracie Kennedy.

The news release read: “Last evening representatives from SVRCS and KCSD met to discuss revisions to the 20-year-old charter. The conversation between the two has been positive and productive thus far. Further meetings have been scheduled to meet the common goal of charter revisions that could be approved by both the KCSD Board of Directors and SVRCS Board of Trustees.”

At last week’s KCSD school board meeting, there was a special voting session that took place following the work session. During the voting session, the board unanimously approved an agreement with SVRCS for talks to proceed in an effort to resolve differences so a new five-year agreement between the schools can be negotiated.

The settlement negotation agreement is broken down into several segments:

Scope — The Parties agree that in efforts to potentially avoid litigation in connection with the proceedings, the parties will attempt to negotiate a resolution. To accomplish this, the Parties agree to the several terms and conditions related to attempting to negotiate a resolution.

Settlement discussion process — The Parties recognize that they are both public entities that may officially act only through their governing boards, and within the context of an opening meeting. Prior to considering or agreeing to any settlement, each Party has the right to hear from its administration and/or attorneys as to the relevant factual and legal background pertaining to settlement of the Proceedings, for purposes of both legal and expert advice on the advertisement of the potential settlement. Each Party has the right to hold any such discussions confidentially and within executive session(s), and at the exclusion of the other party.

Duration — Any Party may give written notice through its Solicitor by mail or email to the other Party’s Solicitor that the Agreement is terminated. In the event this Agreement is terminated, the Proceedings shall continue as if no settlement discussions had occurred. Other than the obligation to negotiate through settlement discussions, the Parties’ obligations under the Agreement shall survive any termination, to include, without limitation, the provisions of paragraphs 2, above.

No waiver or obligation — The Parties expressly recognize and agree that entering into this Agreement (a) does not constitute an admission of liability of any wrongdoing by any party or that the Charter School’s renewal application, or the School District’s proposed causes for non-renewal, lack merit (b) is not a waiver of any arguments, claims, positions, or defenses in connection with the Proceeding, except the express waivers and releases otherwise provided for within the Agreement, and (c) does not obligate the Parties to reach a settlement relative to the Proceedings.

Rule of Construction — Each party, through its legal counsel, has reviewed and participated in the drafting of the Agreement; and any rule of construction to the effect that ambiguities are construed against the drafting Party shall not apply in the interpretation or construction of the Agreement.

Martin said that she would like see the charter — which has not been revised in more than two decades — amended to meet present-day budget requirements.

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