Country Day’s grant makes district nervous

Trustees worried about liability for loan on $8.4 million

How can an $8.4 million grant to rebuild a local school be problematic? That’s what supporters of Chico Country Day School want to know.

On Wednesday, Jan. 28, officials from the charter school will appear before the Chico school board seeking approval for the funding. They’re nervous about it—and for good reason. That’s because the funding is half-grant, half-loan, with the school district responsible if the school doesn’t make its payments, and that worries the district.

“Although a charter school uses … property of the school district, the school district becomes the physical holding company of any debts,” district Trustee Kathy Kaiser said. “If [Chico Country Day School] were to become insolvent for some reason … the school district would be responsible.”

On the other hand, approval would give the school a chance to greatly improve a property the district owns.

Kaiser has “no idea” how the vote will go. “That’s the tension point: what you get versus what you risk.”

“We hope they approve it,” said Paul Weber, the school’s principal. While the plan will surely help the school, it will really help to beautify the neighborhood and help the local economy, he said.