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New Charter School Hastily Signs Lease for Tenant-Challenged Building at County Airport

| July 3, 2012

On the hunt for school buses, next. (© FlaglerLive)


Global Outreach Academy, the Jacksonville-based foreign-language charter school planning to open in Flagler County in less than six weeks, finally has a home. It will be located on the unlikely ground of the Flagler County Airport, in a building that has had a terrible time keeping a tenant since 2004: three such tenants have attempted to operate out of the facility since then, and quickly failed.

The last one—a start-up called Microhose—had hurriedly rushed through a lease agreement with the county, much like Outreach Academy, two years ago, only to do little more than erect signage and make promises.

The Flagler County Commission approved this latest three-year lease with the school on Monday, without discussion, after just one working day of negotiations between the county administration and the school, and two days past the deadline the school board had set for the charter school to have a facility, if it planned to open for the school year starting for students on Aug. 16.

Global Outreach plans to have a language specialty, with Russian and Spanish as principal languages, and an enrollment of 350 students this year, growing to 500 in the second year. The school has been on a frantic hunt for a facility for months. It looked at the old Food Lion property in Flagler Beach, then the property of Heritage Academy in Bunnell after heritage was forced to close by the school board for being a failing school two years in a row. Outreach also looked at Roma Court in Palm Coast. In every case, negotiations failed.

The airport property was a surprise, but it brought two desperate entities—the county and Global Outreach—to agreement. The county has been looking to fill the airport building since 2009. On Monday, the commission approved a lease that will have Global Outreach paying $11,000 a month for three months beginning in August, then $13,500 a month through July 2015. The lease includes a provision to raise the rent in accordance with inflation.

We were assured by the county that the lease agreement could be placed before the commission by July 2,” Kristy Gavin, the school board’s attorney, said. “With this assurance we were comfortable with affording a two day extension.”

“The lease has been signed,” David Soroka, the son of Global Outreach owner and founder Sergey Soroka, said today. Still, Global Outreach’s opening day appears shaky. Sergey Soroka was in the Ukraine this week. His son said he’d be back next week. And many questions are still unanswered about the school. While Sergey had said last month that the school had already “lined up” the 20 to 25 teachers necessary for the school, and hired a principal from a Tampa charter school, David said today that “we’re still working on that.” He said the school was also still working on figuring out how much work would be necessary to make the airport building ready for school. And it was working on putting the word out that there would be a new school in the county.

Now that Heritage has been shuttered, there are two remaining charter schools in the county: Palm Harbor Academy and Imagine School at Town center. Charter schools are privately run but on taxpayers’ dime. They are chartered through the school board. The charters are required to have governing boards that operate publicly. But the school board provides oversight, ensuring that the charters follow the rules—albeit less stringent rules than those set for traditional public schools.

In its first three years, a charter school may not use public dollars for construction, but may do so thereafter.

The airport building is out of the way, even for properties at the airport. It is reachable through a small, two-lane road that disappears to the east of the airport, behind the old Ginn hangar, and along one of the airport’s runways. Global Outreach will be required to install fencing on the west side of the building to prevent students from wandering onto the airport’s tarmac. And students will be prohibited from walking beyond the access road gate without adult supervision, according to the lease.

“We have discussed the need for safety and security with the county and Global.  We are comfortable with the plans to ensure” both, Gavin, the school district’s attorney, said. “This facility has been and is designated for a school.”

The lease is good news for the county, which fills yet another vacant building at the airport with a paying customer. The 19,100-square foot building has been empty since January 2009. It was built for Embry-Riddle Aeronautic University in 2004, when the university signed a 10-year deal to run a flight school out of it while buying at least 104,000 gallons of fuel every year. The Commercial Airline Pilot Training program lasted barely a year. The university never bought the fuel in the volumes pledged, and quit buying it altogether when the CAPT program fell apart, but kept making its lease payments. The building was sublet to another flight school in 2008. That school didn’t last a year. In May 2010, Embry-Riddle bought its way out of the lease with a one-time, $900,000 payment to the county.

At the time, the county owed $1.14 million on the building. It couldn’t use the payment to clear most of the 20-year loan because the loan, which stretches to 2024, forbids early repayments. Those payments add up to $111,000 a year.

The county then leased the facility to a start-up called Microhose, which was supposed to be an innovative company that manufactured a new kind of water hose. That lease was signed hurriedly, supposedly because the company was rearing to go. The county administration and the county commission celebrated that deal with great fanfare and back-patting, speaking of the deal as proof of the county’s forward-looking initiative and promising riches.

The company never operated, and quietly disappeared. The county, of course, never spoke of the failure publicly, which added to the string of fiascos at the airport, including the Ginn bankruptcy and the vanishing of Cakes Across America, which had occupied a small building near the entrance of the airport. The county has had better luck lately, filling a part of the Cakes Across America building with an Enterprise Rent-a-Car franchise, and, more recently, another part of the building with Chanfrau & Chanfrau, the attorneys’ firm.


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12 Responses for “New Charter School Hastily Signs Lease for Tenant-Challenged Building at County Airport”

  1. question says:

    RE: vanishing of Cakes Across America, which had occupied a small building near the entrance of the airport.

    Hardly vanished. Been in business ever since…just not at that location…but remained in business online. Understand they owe the County about $400K. Closed down 2 of their websites –and according to CAA blogs, stiffed many bakers across America. Believe a Craig Coffey project. Surely he has reunited Flagler County with that $400K owed. ?

    And still, now,…opened yet another website selling cakes!!


    • Anonymous says:

      Would like to straighten out the misconception that Corporate Cakes is the same company as Cakes Across America. The person who owns Corporate Cakes has no affiliation with Cakes Across America other than she was an employee with them for 16 years. After CAA closed the business, she started Corporate Cakes. The only association was the purchase of the CAA domain name (only) in an effort to optimize search engine inquiries since CAA had the search engine history behind it. That’s it folks, no other connection or responsibility to anything otherwise associated with Cakes Across America.

    • Just a few words to clear up the error on the statement regarding Corporate Cakes. This company was started in March, after Cakes Across America closed it’s doors. The owner of Corporate Cakes was an employee at CAA for 16 years and after CAA closed, decided to open her own company, doing what she knows best which was serving customers for 16 years. Corporate Cakes has NO affiliation with CAA other than buying the CAA domain NAME in order to optimize search engine inquiries because of the history they had on the web. I would hope people would get their facts straight before hurting other people, especially those who are honest and hard workers who are just trying to make a living by serving others.

  2. palmcoaster says:

    Thank you Flagler Live for this article, in spite that made me sick to read how these worthless commissioners and administrator cover up their shameful deals from us, while costing us millions! That airport has several skeletons on its closets.
    Is as I always believe, just all their “here say” all those goofs, lies pat themselves on their backs for burning our hard earned tax funds..And as an icing on the cake and without the tax payers input extend the administrator contract on a 5 to 0 vote..? Is this the first for profit school on my taxes, located in an airport?

    [Note: the school is designated as non-profit.–FL]

  3. Dudley Doright says:

    My question is if the school will start complaining about aircraft noise and the affect on learning. Will the students be distracted by the busy airport activities thus prompting noise abatement and less traffic? I do not want to see any flight restrictions take place because of poor site selection by this charter school. I see nothing but problems and the blue skys turning gray!

    • James says:

      your point is so ridiculous and negative. Have you ever eaten at highjackers? A thriving restaurant at the airport thats been there many years now? Or have you gone to church at New Way, which is on the airports site. They have been there for a number of years. I think it is a very interesting place for a school and maybe there could be a aviation type charter school there one day. A school that would promote aviation careers and paths. People are so negative.

    • John says:

      Charter Schools are public schools of choice. Parents choose to send their children to a charter school so if they are unhappy with the noise, they will have other school choice options available to them, including the school for which they are zoned. I have personally been at this site and the noise level is not distracting. Most of the traffic is from small planes and the building is set far away from the runway. The potential for the school to integrate “aviation” themed lessons into the curriculum is truly a wonderful opportunity for students to learn about careers in aviation. My guess is that the kids and their parents will LOVE it.

  4. palmcoaster says:

    @ Flagler Live. Non Profit … sure while paying all the administrators and the corporation to run the “non profit” school. Do you really believe that “these non profit schools are just that?” Wishful thinking!!
    To be “designated non profit ” is one thing and to actually be a non profit is different. You have any idea how many “non profit fraud is taking place around us?” To start with soo many so called charities fraudulent groups steal millions form the candid one’s…

  5. Anonymous says:

    Nice, student choice comes to PC. BTW, I see BTES has a new principal. Welcome Dr. Culver. I see you have revamped the school’s welcome letter. Please, please, do change the one for ‘visitors’. That one is the real kicker! Even a Palm Coast 2nd grader can do a better job writing this piece!


    All visitors to the school and parents must enter through the front doors only. Please stop, sign in and pick up a visitor’s pass. Classroom visits must be made with 24 hour notice and may last up to 20 minutes. Conferences must be made in advance, during non-academic hours. Find out when the best time to contact your child’s teacher is, or their e-mail address. The first two weeks of school are the only times we permit parents to walk their children to class. This is for the comfort of the child who may feel as tho they are unsure of where their class is. After two weeks, the child should know where to go, and parents should not be on campus without an appointment. Our goal, as always, is safety. Parent volunteers are welcome. Volunteers must be cleared through student services. (386-437-7526)”

  6. tulip says:

    I would like to know why it is a specialty language school going there. Foreigners that are now living in this country should be going to a specialty language school to learn English! I don’t understand the purpose of this school at all.

    • John says:

      Students will be learning all subjects in English at this school. They willl simply be offering foreign language classes for students in addition to the regular curriculum.

  7. James says:

    WOW, the shady deals that our commisioners and representatives make. Look at Nate McClaughin he just came out of a foreclosure and a bankruptcy. Look at the city of palm coast who has that huge expensive building at the Town Center but they RENT there office space on Cypress Point Pkwy for an astronomical amount of money. Then look at the overbuilt courthouse and county buildings. Oh and we can forget the sheriff. Hey Flagler County we have a TANK! Thanks DON. Lets not forget the PALM COAST Fire department who has over 8 people on staff that made over 90,000 dollars last year or the gigantic fire truck (1 TRUCK) they purchased for 1,000,000. And they say there gonna use it as a “fire tower”. Isnt the the division of forestry’s job? Flagler better get it together or we’ll end of like Birmingham Alabama and countless other cities that have filed for bankruptcy, yes people a municipality can file for bankruptcy. Its a shame, lets hope where not next.

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