Conway Board Declines Charter Lease Revisit, Members Say Commissioner “Overstepped” Bounds

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The Conway School Board voted down a proposition to rent vacant school building space to Robert Frost Charter School despite calls from Commissioner Frank Edelblut, reported the Conway Daily SunThe charter school approached the school board in 2015 about leasing unused space in the middle school, which the board voted against by a 6-1 margin. Robert Frost officials say they’ve entered an agreement with a nearby church for space, but school board members say they’ve asked them to reconsider leasing the space within the school:

Board Chairman Joe Lentini made a motion to revisit the lease — which charter school officials had originally sought two years ago — but the vote ended in a 3-3 tie, and thus failed. Lentini was joined by Syndi White and Randy Davison in the minority, while Mark Hounsell, Jessica Whitelaw and Joe Mosca prevailed with their opposition to reopening the matter.

Hounsell, Lentini and Capozzoli each received calls from Edelblut; SAU 9 Superintendent Kevin Richard did not.

“I guess I was left out of the loop on this one,” Richard said Thursday.

Capozzoli wrote in an email: “I feel that the commissioner has overstepped his bounds in calling board members when the charter school has not even stated what they want. He did admit that they contacted him before they contacted us. This does bother me and I told him so.”

“We’re setting a precedent if we do this,” Hounsell said. “We’re saying, if you don’t like the decision the school board makes, just go and bitch to the commissioner of education and he’ll make us do it.”

“That is irrelevant to my thought,” Lentini said. “I was approached by a member of the community who asked us to revisit an issue.”

“What was the impetus for us to do this?” Hounsell demanded. “If we’re about local control, then we darn well better be a little concerned why this topic has come back up and why we’re considering using my time and the facilities committee’s time and staff time to look at something that we’ve already looked at and already determined, and, yet we’re bringing it up because of political connections and the commissioner of education gets involved, makes a phone call and we jump through the hoops. I’m a little bit scuffed up about that.”

Source: Board nixes revisiting lease of space to charter school | Conway Daily Sun