April 11, 2008, , e-mail from a TLHS founder, by Diane Allerdyce.
Greetings from Haiti, where we have spent the spring break exploring the education system and food crisis in many of our students' country of origin. We appreciate so much knowing that you and the justice group are supporting TLHS, even in our absence, especially since we spent our first few days here in the mountains with no access to email as well as extremely limited cell phone access, close to the very poor village of Las Cahobas near the Dominican border. We arrived yesterday in Liancourt in the Artibonite region where, despite the greener conditions near the country's major river, many people are suffering from an extreme shortage of food and other commodities, including gas. Yet we are comfortable and grateful for good food prepared with love by our hosts and for very comfortable accommodations at the mission camp where they arranged for us to stay during our visit. We are guests of a school director here with whom we hope to partner to support a school feeding program for the 370 students whose only meal is often the lunch served at school when provisions are available--we'll tell everyone more about our ideas for helping this region when we see you next and perhaps can suggest a school feeding program be on the justice agenda. In the meantime, thank you so much for your idea of going to the school board. We agree your plan sounds good, especailly because your emphasis is on the message being respectful and tactful, which of course is also our objective.
We will be traveling back to Florida on Sunday and thus unable to attend your meeting, but here are some ideas to be discussed:
Perhaps the most feasible proposal to make to the District is that they include us permantently in their plans for the Seacrest Campus. If they need us out of there while they demolish and recontruct the site, they could move us back to our former site Delray Square until the new campus is ready.
We have ascertained the Delray Square site is still available. However, the rent is $5,000 more per month than it was under the former lease, and the new proposal is only for one year at a time, renewable for a max of two years. As the space will accommodate only about 120 of the 165 students we currently have, the cost of this enrollment loss must also be considered and compensated. That being said, if the District does not have additional space for us in or near Delray Beach, moving back to our former site may be the best option as a temporary measure while they work on housing us permanently.
We definitely want to ask the school district to either keep us at Seacrest, relocate the school to a permanent or longterm facility, and/or to pay our moving costs (round trip) back to where we were, in Delray Square or to another suitable site.
There is likely to be objection that the District is not responsible for housing charter schools. That is true. However, our contention is that they owe TLHS for damages/costs incurred when they did offer us a year-to-year renewable lease with assurances (in August) that there were no immediate plans for the site and that the year-to-year lease was renewable, and then not informing us when the Board voted (in December--after our lease was signed but before we moved) to demolish the site. Perhaps Barry can explain it best in terms of what we might reasonably argue. We're not asking for a hand-out or coming from a position of entitlement, but rather one of fairness in light of the community need our school fulfills and in light of the financial damages the school incurred through the District's actions.
Diane Allerdyce, Ph.D.
Chief Academic Officer/Co-Founder
Toussaint L'Ouverture High School for Arts & Social Justice
777 E. Atlanic Ave. #Z-242
Delray Beach, FL 33483