Cerretani: Southard School lease negotiations look ‘very good’


HOWELL — Administrators in the Howell K-8 School District recently got a bit of much-needed good news in a year marred by budget problems and looming staff layoffs.

The Board of Education is in negotiations with the Cornerstone Calvary Church to lease areas of the Southard School, board President Mary Cerretani said on June 14.

The board owns the Southard School, Kent Road. The school was closed at the end of the 2008-09 academic year.

“We are really hoping this works out,” Cerretani said. “Right now everything seems to be very good. We do need that revenue. We went almost a year without it.”

The Howell school district has been renting some of the space in the Southard School to the Acelero Head Start program since August 2009. The organization uses four classrooms and shared common areas and pays the district $40,000 a year.

District administrators closed the 50- year-old school in 2009 due to declining enrollment. Pupils who would have attended the Southard School during the 2009-10 school year and in subsequent years were assigned to attend the Aldrich School on Aldrich Road.

School district administrators thought they had a handshake agreement with township officials late last year, when the municipal representatives were looking at the Southard School as a possible site to relocate the municipal offices from Preventorium Road.

Township Council members decided against leasing the school in January, much to the chagrin of the board and district administrators.

District officials have been looking for a new tenant for the Southard School ever since. They went out to bid almost immediately after the council decided against moving Howell’s municipal offices to the shuttered school.

Cerretani said at this time she could not provide details about the lease that the board is negotiating with the Cornerstone Calvary Church.

“It looks like something we can live with,” she said. “I’m so happy.”