Tuesday, May 17, 2011

KIPP Trying to Take Malco; Decision Likely at June Meeting

HELENA-WEST HELENA- Very quietly and without much public warning, the KIPP Delta Charter Academy asked the Helena-West Helena City Council for long-term control of the Malco Theater on Cherry Street.

KIPP Boss Scott Shirey made the presentation to the City Council asking for operational control of the facility.  He said that KIPP would manage the theater the way Phillips Community College manages the Lily Peter Auditorium.  That would mean the Fine Arts Department at KIPP would take precedence over all other community activities, that KIPP would determine who could rent the building, would collect the fees for the building, and could determine when the building would be open.

Shirey wants at least a 10-year lease.  KIPP would pay utilities and take care of some repairs, but the city would not receive any rental payments.  To bolster their case, Shirey showed pictures of their facilities and bragged about KIPP's fundraising prowess.  Alderman Joe St. Columbia and Jay Hollowell, along with Mayor Arnell Willis, appeared very supportive.

The KIPP request for the city to essentially give away a facility to them comes on the heels of the city's failure to live up to its obligations for the use of the North Helena Park by the Helena-West Helena Central High School baseball and softball teams and on the heels of the city's decisions to start removing CHS Cougar decals from city law enforcement vehicles.

Alderman Marvin Jarrett said he was not prepared to take any action until he saw the actual lease.  Final consideration of who will keep operational control of the Malco Theater will occur at the next meeting on the first Tuesday in June.

In other business, Mayor Arnell Willis announced that the A and P Commission, chaired by former KIPP Board member Cathy Cunningham, had awarded $30000 to the city's parks and recreation department.

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