Flashback: Charter school eyes site deal with Pinckney district

Charter school eyes site deal with Pinckney district

Livingston Daily
by Jim Totten
May 29, 2014

Faced with possibly having to close its doors, Kensington Woods High School is desperately searching for a new location for its 130 students and believes it has found one.

Officials at the Howell-area public charter school hope to secure a one-year lease at Lakeland Elementary School in Hamburg Township. Pinckney Community Schools is scheduled to close the building at the end of the school year.

There's been discussion between the two parties, but no final agreement.

If approved, officials said this would be a unique agreement between a public school and charter school. Normally, each side sees the other an adversary competing for students and state funding.

"I have to give a lot of credit to Rick (Todd) for doing this," Kensington Woods Principal Markus Muennix said. Todd is the superintendent of Pinckney schools.

Muennix said Kensington Woods, which has grades 7-12, believed it had lined up a new location in Howell and was making plans when the deal fell through two months ago. Muennix said the proposed site needed a costly environmental remediation.

He said school officials have been "scrambling the last few months" to find a spot.

"Within the next week or two, I'm hoping this can be nailed down," he said.

The school's current lease with Cleary University in Genoa Township runs until the end of June. Cleary plans to use the Kensington facility for an art gallery and expanding its classrooms.

Todd said he was initially hesitant about partnering with a charter school.

However, he said, he listened to numerous Kensington Woods parents who pleaded with him.

"What I heard in their voices was desperation that comes from the loss of hope," Todd wrote in an email to school staff. "In their eyes, they finally found an environment their child could be successful in and they are scared to death that it may be taken away if the school closes."

As an educator, Todd said he didn't want to see a school closed.

"This is about kids," he said.

In addition, Todd said the district needs to be creative in generating revenue to address its $2.3 million deficit.

Todd said the district could receive an estimated $140,000 for leasing a portion of the school. He also said this would not be a long-term deal, and Kensington Woods would have to agree not to recruit Pinckney students.

Earlier this school year, Pinckney approved closing Lakeland to adjust for its shrinking enrollment.

Muennix said he's hopeful an agreement can be finalized.

He said Kensington Woods provides a close-knit community for students who didn't do well in large schools.

"It's about community; it's about doing what's right for the kids," Muennix said.

Contact Daily Press & Argus reporter Jim Totten at 517-548-7088 or at jtotten@gannett.com.

FlashbackJessie Pratt