SCHS to get new locationThe Dickinson Public Schools Board approved the purchase of a $430,000 building to house Southwest Community High School during a special meeting Tuesday afternoon.
The Dickinson Public Schools Board approved the purchase of a $430,000 building to house Southwest Community High School during a special meeting Tuesday afternoon.
However, there is a dispute over whether DPS has paid rent for the space they currently lease for the school at the T-Rex Plaza.
The district intends to purchase the Movie Gallery building located at 266 Third Ave. W. Movie Gallery is closing.
The closing date for the purchase is July 28 and the school will occupy the building soon after, said Doug Sullivan, superintendent of DPS.
“It actually moved a little bit quicker than we thought it would,” Sullivan said. “We think that the Movie Gallery facility is an excellent opportunity to be self-sufficient and have our own building and not have to worry about whether rent will increase or any of those other things.”
Very little other work needs to be done to the building before classes can be held there, he added.
Shawn Leiss, principal of Southwest Community High School, thinks the building is a better location for the school.
“I’m very excited,” he said after the meeting.
Haley Ashley, who will be a senior at the school in the fall, said the location of Movie Gallery will give the school more exposure.
“I think it’s great — I mean, we’ll have more people know about that and have more kids explore more opportunities,” Ashley said. “I think it will be great to get people more aware that there are more options for their kids.”
Leiss and Ashley said since the school is located inside a mall, there were occasional interruptions of class.
During the meeting, Sullivan said the school district had issues earlier this year with the lease at the T-Rex mall. He said school officials felt mall management might ask them to leave.
“So we began looking around and searching and seeing what alternatives were available,” Sullivan said.
Cliff Strand, a part-owner of the T-Rex Plaza from Newport Beach, Calif., said Tuesday evening that the school district has been withholding a portion of their rent.
“We’ve been getting $244 a month when the lease calls for an excess of $1,300 a month and we’ve been paying utilities when their lease calls for them to pay utilities,” Strand said.
He was unsure what the total amount the district owed is.
“The only response from the district is the district has paid its rent every month on time — its rent and utilities,” Sullivan said. “There is no lawsuit filed, but there is a disagreement over the payment of the rent and the utilities.”
Strand said he tried to discuss the matter with DPS, but school officials referred the matter to an attorney.
“As recently as last Friday, we were negotiating with them and had made a proposal — what we thought was a fair proposal — to forgive the back rent and provide them with some additional space if they were to continue to lease and start fresh,” Strand said.
He was waiting on a response to that proposal, he added. News of their intent to move out of the mall is a surprise, he said.
“I’m absolutely shocked,” Strand said. “Apparently they were just using us to go negotiate with somebody else.”
Aside from rent and utilities Strand said the district owes, he also expects the district to give notice of their intent to vacate the mall, he said.