FKCC wants $3.1 million from School District

Florida Keys Community College shares space with Coral Shores High School in Tavernier.
Florida Keys Community College shares space with Coral Shores High School in Tavernier.

A financial dust-up has arisen between the Florida Keys Community College and the Monroe County School District over $3.1 million the college sunk into building the campus of Coral Shores High School in Tavernier.

Both sides are in negotiations and plan to meet April 24 in Tavernier before the school board’s regular meeting, which begins at 3 p.m.

At issue is whether FKCC deserves $3.1 million, which it accepted as a grant from the state and handed over to the school district in 1996, be returned. That investment was 20 percent of the total cost of Coral Shores High, which was finished in 1999.

So far, the school board has resisted the college’s demands although one member says a compromise hasn’t been ruled out.

“They really want to get out of there,” said board member John Dick, of FKCC’s presence at Coral Shores. “They want to be on their own.

According to Dick, the college would rather have its own building in the Upper Keys rather than share space at a high school, which he added takes away from the college experience.

The college’s president, however, says that over the past 17 years the school district has reduced its space on campus, while it pays nearly $500,000 a year in rent for about 10,000 square feet of classrooms. A long-term solution would be to move to another facility, the college says.

FKCC spokeswoman Amber Ernst-Leonard declined to set up an interview with FKCC president Jonathan Gueverra and instead replied for comment by sending the Dec. 11, 2017 letter he wrote to Superintendent Mark Porter detailing the college’s request.

“The college continues to face challenges getting access to space that was part of the joint use funding,” Gueverra wrote.

Gueverra called the request a “buyout.”

The $3.1 million was awarded to FKCC by the state through the Public Education Capital Outlay.

Gwen Filosa: @KeyWestGwen