Harpswell extends charter school lease

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HARPSWELL — The Board of Selectmen Wednesday approved and signed a year-long extension of Harpswell Coastal Academy’s lease of West Harpswell Elementary School.

Selectmen and representatives of the charter school had hoped to negotiate a sale of the property before school starts next week, but those talks came up short, Chairman Rich Daniel said.

The school is hoping to make the 17,000 square-foot building, at 9 Ash Point Road, its permanent home.

The two sides have been negotiating for the better part of three months, and although unable to reach an agreement, have made good headway towards a sale, Daniel said.

“We’ve established a relationship that will serve us well going forward,” he said, after selectmen signed the lease.

HCA will pay the town $40,000 in 10 equal monthly payments through May.

The amount is double the rent HCA paid to the town last year. The increase is a result of additional building space HCA is using because of its growing student body.

HCA opened last year with 60 students in grades six and nine. This year it is expected to enroll 130 students, adding grades seven and 10, and plans to grow to 280 students in grades 6-12.

Under the lease, the two parties have until January to negotiate the purchase. The proposed agreement will still have to be approved by voters at a Town Meeting.

School Administrative District 75 closed West Harpswell Elementary School in 2011. According to the assessor’s office, the building is valued at $990,000, while the overall value of the property, including almost eight acres of land, is close to $1.09 million.

Peter L. McGuire can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @mcguiremidcoast.