Also: The district is considering what to do with unused property.
School Board members sought at a workshop Sept. 20 to tighten regulations to prevent events like the Sept. 10-11 Wheels and Keels car and boat show at Flagler Palm Coast High School from happening on school district properties in the future.
School Board members were concerned that the Wheels and Keels event — which raised $5,000 for the district’s Future Problem Solvers program and was spearheaded by Flagler Broadcasting General Manager David Ayres and School Board member Andy Dance — did not come before the board for consideration before a contract was signed, and that the arrangement involved subleasing.
Subleasing is barred under district policy, but that’s what happened, board members said, when the contract between the district and the radio station was used to allow a third party — car dealership Ritchey Auto — to use the school property.
Even that agreement appeared to have been violated, board member Colleen Conklin said at the workshop.
“Who or how or why did they think that they had permission to actually work to actively sell vehicles on our property?” Conklin said at the meeting. “At the end of the day, even the agreement that actually was signed off on was violated. … That agreement was not what took place.”
School Board member Janet McDonald said that Ritchey Auto, the Volusia County-based car dealership that ended up being the sole dealership to participate in the event, also held test drives at the event, exposing the school district to liability.
But Dance said that what happened at the Wheels and Keels event was what had been intended.
“There may have been some words or terminology in the agreement that might not have fully substantiated what was going on, but the agreement and the way it was fulfilled was the way that it was intended to go though,” he said. “There were questions in the beginning when the radio station brought the fundraiser forward, but those were worked out through many different checks and balances. And I think the question being the scale of the event — that there’s issues with the scale of the event, and ways to provide checks and balances for those — so that would be something appropriate to look at.”
“Mr. Dance, I beg to differ,” she said. “If the words of the agreement don’t align with the way it was worked out because that’s the way it was intended, that’s a false presentation of the agreement. If it actually came out the way it did and that was the intent, but that wasn’t the language that got signed and committed to, that’s a violation. A huge violation.”
The two-page contract for the event did not mention actual sales taking place at the school property. It said that the radio station and the Problem Solvers “wish to participate together to undertake and organize a fundraising event … by conducting the First Inaugural Boat, Car and and RV show” at the high school campus, and that “the vendors participating in this event will be displaying boats, cars and RV’s.”
But if the board wants to tighten up the language in its policy, School District Attorney Kristy Gavin said at the meeting, it needs to deal with another problem: The facility usage policy the district has been using wasn’t ever actually formally approved by the board before it was adopted by district staff.
The School Board wasn’t able to come to a resolution Sept. 20 during the hour-long workshop, and will consider the issue again in a future workshop.
What to do with unused properties?
The school district has more property than it currently needs, and has been getting various offers to buy some of it, including the Corporate 1 property and another property in the Hammock off Oceanshore Boulevard.
“We do have folks that ... have written us and said that they are willing to buy that (Corporate 1) property, and we’ve pretty much told them that right now it’s not for sale,” Flagler Schools Superintendent Jacob Oliva told board members during a workshop Sept. 20. “But if the board wants us to accept these offers or explore them, then we need a little direction on how we move forward.”
The Corporate 1 property and the Oceanshore Boulevard property each have around seven acres of usable land — less than would be needed for an actual school site.
The board also has unused land in the Seminole Woods area and on the site of the Indian Trails Middle School and Belle Terre Elementary School campuses, among other locations.
“Some of these properties are really a value only to us, because of the educational deed restrictions on them,” Mike Judd, assistant to to Flagler Schools Superintendent Jacob Oliva, told board members during the workshop.
Some of the larger properties might be needed for future school sites as residential construction increases, Oliva said.
“We are getting to that point where development is starting to happen, rezoning is going become a very real conversation I think in the very near future, and there are some very big projects that had been kind of sunsetted for a while that are going to start ticking up as far as construction is concerned,” such as the Hunters Ridge development, he said.
Judd said it might make sense to hold the properties. “Properties are getting more difficult to get, not easier, and they’re getting more expensive. … Once it’s gone, it will cost you a lot more to get it back and cost you nothing to hold onto it,” he said.
Oliva pointed out that even smaller properties that can’t be used for schools could be used in the future to negotiate trades or sales, and that they will increase in value. Because it doesn’t cost the district to hold vacant land, and it is increasing in value, it makes sense to hold on to it, he said, unless the district gets an offer that would account for at least 10 years of appreciation.
“My recommendation would be to not sell any of these properties unless we put in a variable factor of what we estimate a property value increase would be for the next 10 years,” Oliva said.