Little School seeks changes to lease with Weston

Christine Falango, standing, discusses changes the Little School is seeking to its lease with the town as Select Board members listen. Photos by Bruce Frauman

By Bruce Frauman
© 2017 Telegraph Publishing

The Little School is renegotiating its lease with the town of Weston, and Little School Treasurer Christine Falango appeared before the Select Board on Tuesday, May 9 to discuss various terms. Board member Jim Linville said he and Falango met on the previous Monday to go over the lease of the Little School, which is renting the Annex Building, next to Town Offices. The biggest change, Linville said, “is that Christine wanted the lease 10 years rather than five years.”

The Little School is a 41-year-old private early childhood and pre-school program serving children ages 2 through 5 from Weston and surrounding towns. It has been in the Annex Building since its founding.

Falango looks over Select Board member Ann Fuji’i’s shoulder as they discuss the footprint of the school.

Falango said, “We have put a lot of money into the school and I think the Little School has done their part in maintaining the building and its nice to know we have the lease in place and we have done a lot of building improvements.”

Linville also said the lease refers to “Schedule A,” but “nobody knew exactly was Schedule A was …” Linville then asked Assistant Town Clerk Deb Moser to look into the town records to “produce something like a Schedule A to show what the land is.” Various maps show differences in the frontage and total acreage, and Linville’s goal is to determine the correct dimensions and have those reflected on all the maps. 

Linville said the current lease limits “use of the second floor of the building (to) storage purposes only,” but the school would like to put in a conference table for meetings. Linville added that the fire marshal suggested that if the space were cleaned up, it could also be used for “secondary outdoor space,” or as Falango said “play space.”

The floor would also need a second egress.  Falango suggested taking the wording out of the lease that prohibits use of the space. She said there are no immediate plans to clear out the room and that the school would consult with the Select Board and the fire marshal before proceeding. Linville said he was willing to open it up for other uses in the lease as long as proper approvals from the proper authorities are obtained.

A provision that states that any change of use of any space within the building must be approved by the Select Board will be rewritten by Linville so the school has “full use of the building.” 

The rent will be set at $9,300 per year with a $300 annual increase if the board agrees.  The rent is currently $9,000.

Board member Charles Goodwin.

Linville said one provision, which he called “a little draconian,” says the town could terminate the lease if it would need to spend more than $25,000 on the building to meet “compliance deficiencies.” Linville considered a new roof needed because of a hurricane. Goodwin said “compliance deficiencies” could be a result of “something that happened in the legislature,” making the building comply with current standards of regulations. Agreeing that the dollar amount could be adjusted, Goodwin said “that would be something we would want to protect ourselves against.” Benson agreed, suggesting that town expenditures above a given dollar limit be approved first at town meeting.

Falango agreed with Benson’s suggestion that should the state mandate that preschool children attend a different type of school, the Little School has an “out” of the lease.

In other business, the board appointed one of its own, Bruce Downer, to the position of zoning administrator. This appointment was not on the agenda, but board member Charles Goodwin read from minutes of the Planning Commission meeting recommending Downer for the position, which has been vacant since November 2016.

The board also discussed a Vermont League of Cities and Towns request following an inspection of several buildings. The VLCT report found improper storage of  chainsaws, a needed guard on a grinder, town garage alarm, a cover over a boiler electrical box and a cover over a sump pump hole in the Little School basement.

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