During its Sept. 9 meeting, the Buena Vista school district board of education stood behind a statement by district superintendent Lisa Yates that responded to an account by Colorado Mountain College of events earlier this summer that culminated in the college moving out of its Chaffee County Academic Center in Buena Vista on CR 319.
CMC released a statement in response to a story published in the Aug. 29 Times last week, and Yates released a letter last Thursday responding to the story, its headline and to CMC’s letter.
“Lisa responded just to add a little more context to it, and in my opinion that response stated our position well,” said board president Suzette Hachmann. “Where we’re at is we’re still trying to maintain our relationship with CMC and we still want the services for our students.”
The letter released by CMC sets forth a timeline of BVSD’s seeking to lease and ultimately purchase the under-utilized campus in Buena Vista to expand its Avery-Parsons early school program.
Those talks fell through when Yates told CMC that the district would be withdrawing from negotiations to purchase the building after CMC’s counter-offer was deemed too costly by the board.
In the letter Yates said: “Throughout the process of the district’s exploration of the CMC facility, and still today, the Buena Vista School District values CMC and believes us to be mutually beneficial partners. In good faith, we engaged with CMC regarding the Chaffee County campus in Buena Vista to achieve goals that would benefit CMC and the school district.”
The classes that were being offered at the Chaffee County Center are still being offered in the area, albeit in BVSD facilities.
Rachel Pokrandt, the vice president of CMC Leadville and the program director for the Chaffee County Service Area, said that classes are routinely rotated to other locations in the service area according to need.
While in the letter, Yates said that CMC had initiated discussions with BVSD about the district’s interest in the facility, Pokrandt said that the school district initiated conversations about possibly buying the property.
Yates said that “the college recognized the property and building in BV had been largely provided through community donations and so initially suggested a low to no cost offer or swap would be possible. Instead, CMC used a market value appraisal of the campus and restrictions of sale of one of BV School’s in town properties to counter BV School’s offer to purchase.”
“I encouraged the school district to make an offer,” Pokrandt said. The district did, CMC made its counter, and the district wrote announcing its withdrawal from the conversation, she said.
CMC had a plan for the building.
It evacuated the building in late May, Pokrandt said. That was our plan, to allow the school district to occupy and remodel the building.
Once the district chose to not occupy the building, it made no sense to bring everything back, she noted, since it had been moved to Salida.
CMC will await the decision of Salida school district voters this fall before determining what step to take next with the BV building.
“The negotiations never really happened,” Pokrandt said.
“I know we walked through it and (the public) didn’t necessarily, but it feels like old news,” said board treasurer Leslie Quilico. “It happens in lots of transactions where you just can’t come to an agreement on something and you move on. There’s what’s offered and we’re not able to participate in it, we’re not able to pay. It’s a done discussion, and I don’t think it has to be negative.”