South Whidbey School District finds tenants, tentatively

A couple of South Whidbey school buildings will have learning purposes. The difference is the occupants will range from 6 to 60 years old.

The South Whidbey School District has tentative tenants for Bayview School and the two-story building at Langley Middle School.

The Whidbey Island Community Education Center, a fledgling nonprofit continued education program, has a school board-approved lease for Bayview.

But there’s a catch.

The education center doesn’t have any money to pay rent just yet. When the rent and utilities are due, there will be a hefty cost. Rent for the 100-year-old building is slated to cost $1,000 per month starting in March, and increases after six months to $1,500 until the end of the lease in August 2014.

“They’re fledgling, so we’re trying to give them an opportunity for growth,” said District Superintendent Jo Moccia. “My hope is that they’ll take off and they’ll meet our mission and meet their mission.”

For the time being, the education center has limited fixed expenses. From September to February, the Whidbey Island Community Education Center will pay for utilities and maintenance of the aging, wood-floor, white school house. That is, if it can find the funds to cover those initial costs plus a $500 deposit.

One way the school board sees the education center reducing its cost burden is to sublet some of the school’s space. No representatives from the education center were present at the school board meeting Wednesday night.

“They’re trying to be the conduit to bring other groups together,” Moccia said.

The two-story building at the middle school will be alive with movement this year. Island Dance, which formerly operated at Ken’s Korner Shopping Mall, had its lease unanimously approved by the school board, 5-0.

“That’s a really nice location for them,” said Board Member Jill Engstrom. “I hope they succeed.”

Island Dance will pay $2,660 per month, on top of a $1,550 security deposit. There will be benefits for both the school and the dance business. Island Dance moves closer to Langley, and the schools will have some dance programs.

“We get dance classes in the schools, and they’re able to bring their service there,” Moccia said.

Work was underway refitting the former Langley High School into a multi-room dance studio this week. Ray Brown, the husband of Island Dance co-artistic director Charlene Brown, worked on gutting some of the classrooms, replacing the carpet with vinyl or wood floors and floating some of the floors over the original concrete slabs.

Plenty of work remained between the approval of the lease and the Sept. 1 opening for Island Dance, but Ray Brown said the studio would be ready.



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