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Sunday, Apr. 26, 2015

School board responds to art school fire

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Thursday's unfortunate fire at Curiel-Reynolds School of the Arts left several unanswered questions for the residents and apprentices of the art school. A group of representatives approached the Spencer school board on Tuesday evening to ask the district for help.

In 2007, the district sold the Reynolds Elementary School building on contract to Tony Curiel, who then opened the art school. Under the terms of the contract, Curiel was to purchase an insurance policy for the building. Unfortunately, he hadn't purchased a policy at the time of the fire.

Curiel, along with several apprentices of the school, asked the board for time to clean and repair the damage on the building, and for a watchful eye to keep the art school on schedule.

The district still holds a policy on the property, but the board is unsure of what their next steps will have to be.

"There's several issues that need to be addressed with this," Terry Hemann, superintendent of Spencer schools, said. "We're not sure how the district can proceed, given that this is a legal issue."

The board is considering a special closed session to discuss possible options.

"We have to be careful and prudent as a board," board member Kris McDermott said.

In other action, the board approved the tentative agreement for the 2012-13 teacher contracts. The increase rate is 3.74 percent, which includes a $735 base increase and a $546 insurance increase. The total increase is $385,667 across the district.

"This increase was very near that state average at the time of the decision," Hemann said.

The Spencer Education Association has also approved this agreement.

The rate of pay for substitute teachers will maintain for another year. Substitute teachers will be paid $105 per day, and $136 per day when substituting for five or more consecutive days.

"We think this pay is competitive, and we'll keep it as is for another year," Hemann said.

Following discussions with city officials about reinstating the part-time school resource officer position, the board overwhelmingly approved their half of the commitment to the position.

The SRO will be responsible for 20 hours of work per week during the school year. Half of this will be paid by the city, and half will be paid by the school. Hemann and city manager, Bob Fagan, who have been discussing this position, estimate that each side will be responsible for paying approximately $9,000 toward this position.

The SRO will work to prevent juvenile delinquency and truancy, and will also be a "visible presence within the school community."

"We expect the SRO to build working relationships with the staff, students, and parents," Hemann said.

Several board members expressed that they are "excited to see this program return."

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Oh my gosh 5 years and the guy hasn't gotten around to purchasing an insurance policy, I say that's your fault sir. Please don't waste the tax payer's money on someone elses stupidity.

-- Posted by Iowachick on Thu, Jun 21, 2012, at 10:14 PM

While I am not at liberty to comment on details of the insurance situation (and no, the school was not without insurance an entire 5 years; I believe the lapse in coverage was recent) before you decry a waste of taxpayer money, what so often fails to surface in such discussions is the fact that Louis Tony Curiel came to Spencer before moving here to set up the hot shop and other technical aspects of Bogenrief Studios on his own time.

More importantly, he gave $100,000 liquid cash to the school district just to move in to that building, which had been assessed at $170,000, rather than a more reasonable down payment of, say 20-25%. Additionally, he has paid $24,000 into the property tax base and another $30,000 on the note held by the school district. People act as though he lives for free.

Some districts just hand over old school buildings to nonprofits for $1.00 plus closing costs. The Curiel School has paid in six figures just for being in the building, without counting their artistic contributions to the area.

-- Posted by AmyPeterson on Fri, Jun 22, 2012, at 7:53 AM

Amy,What does Tony's trip to Spencer to help out a private business(Bogenrief's) have to do with the fact that he let the insurance lapse on the art school building? Also if he did'nt think the $100,000 he paid was resonable why did he go through with the deal?

-- Posted by onamouse on Fri, Jun 22, 2012, at 8:27 PM

So I'm curious. Is Mr. Curiel current on his mortgage and property tax payments at this time? Has he been behind in either of those payments in the past? Why doesn't he clean up around the building? I have to believe that his neighbors don't care for the way he is maintaining his property.

-- Posted by Mechler on Sun, Jun 24, 2012, at 8:30 AM

thank you AmyPeterson for the additional information. obviously it wasn't any kind of good idea for him to allow a lapse of insurance, but how in the great small town of spencer, do we then start attacking how the building looks? from insurance to looks. hmmmm....this man came here to provide a service to the spencer area. If his is or isn't up to date on mortgage and property tax isn't any of our business at all. The board will decide on all that, which if he was behind I would think they would have brought up before this happened. To me this just shows me how quick the people of spencer are quick to jump conclusions, and talk about stuff that isn't their business. If the places closes down you will get your answer. If they reopen will the assumptions stop after they have now started? probably not....sad. I hope that the board is able to make a wise decision in a timely manner. This place is an asset to our town, but if it is that he hasn't legally kept up with enough of his obligations then I understand if it will have to be shut down, however it will be a sad thing to see go from the area.

-- Posted by AshlyMeyer on Sun, Jun 24, 2012, at 11:27 AM

It's not our business? Let's see. School is owed money? That's public money.... our money. Property taxes not paid? Mine are. How about yours? Need those funds to pay for public services like public schools. If some of us don't pay the rest of us ultimately will pay more. That's OUR business. Don't care what your neighbor's property looks like? Don't care that it impacts your property value? Don't care that your neighbor is experiencing uncontrolled explosions in your neighborhood? These things would seem to be fairly easy to fix. Why do they continue?

-- Posted by Mechler on Sun, Jun 24, 2012, at 1:18 PM

Oh I have to say this. Every ones property taxes are everyones business. How? There is thing called tax lien sales. I love them. Oh and you can go to iowaassessors and look up ppls value of houses, how much they paid, how much taxes are, land lines, and so on. It is public knowldge. So yes I would like to know too. In the report it says that the district still holds a policy and that this sir was going to them for help. Um that is our dollars that he is asking for, so yeah we should know what is going on. How much he paid for it, I think is good, yes I hope that he brings something positive to our area, but it does not look good for him now. :(

-- Posted by acerdj on Sun, Jun 24, 2012, at 10:28 PM

Simpleperson- the building was sitting empty before it was sold. If you read he also posted well beyound the 20% down that is generally required. Nobody has verified that he owes any property taxes. as far as mine being paid that is really none of your business. Just because he insurance policy had a lapse we should automatically assume that the mortgage and property taxes are behind as well??? I personally know that I can't make a neighbor do something about the way their property is, so unless it is really causing a public hazard then no I don't care what it looks like. As far as uncontrolled explosions I'd have to have you fill me in on that, as I'm not sure that I have heard of them happening around here. There have been several house/ apartments fires, from what I have read was due to overheated circuits in attics for the most part. Do you have a plan to try to make EVERYONE keep unexpected fires from happening?

acerdj- if you are able to look up all that are you not able to find if he owes back property taxes? If that is not made public information I would have to assume that there is a reason for that. I guess my think is people are so quick to jump to assume that since 1 thing was behind on payments then ALL things must be behind as well. Life is very often not that simple.

-- Posted by AshlyMeyer on Mon, Jun 25, 2012, at 2:32 PM

I am working on a blog, and even a video, of the realities of the financial situation, the actual impact on taxpayers, the positive impact the school has made, and has an opportunity to make in the future, and other issues so all the issues are put out in an easy to digest way. This will allow anyone interested to know the facts, then form your own opinion.

As for me, my summer and possibly beyond is devoted to saving the Curiel Reynolds School of Visual Arts. I was crowd funding the launch of my play and a new barter initiative for Spencer and the Lakes, and I had my friend, author Andy Berhman, coming from L.A. to star in the play and also present his own night of fun and storytelling over Labor Day Weekend.

I canceled all of it. I have put my creative life on hold in an attempt to save the school.

If it does not go well, my oldest son's future is in jeopardy. D is an artist and is also autistic, so he can't just go take the physician's assistant program at Iowa Lakes or something. This is his post secondary plan. Without CRVA, he has no artistic future. A glass artist with 40 years experience and this much exposure in the art world doesn't come through Spencer every day. Why would I want him to go to a college to major in art (even if he could get in, having been out of high school an entire year!) taught by people who make their living teaching, when he could be taught a useful art by a master, who makes his living as an artist?

I'm not saying the public should support the school because of D, or because of any individual involved. The public should support the art school because it has brought so much more to the community than it has taken. I will demonstrate that in my blog and video. It will be posted soon.

-- Posted by AmyPeterson on Mon, Jun 25, 2012, at 8:30 PM

Ashly don't jump my crap here. I didn't say anthing about him oweing money! I just simply said that it is public knowledge and yes you can go to this website and find out if he owes back taxes. I don't remember his name, so I don't think he owes back taxes. I say this cuss we just did the tax lien sale last week. So calm down on me! I kinda made it a point to show that I am for this and sad that it doesn't look good for him.

yes you should be concerned what your neighbors property looks like, for this brings your value down on your property. Hence the reason why one area will be more expensive than another. Like park street verses 11th street.

-- Posted by acerdj on Wed, Jun 27, 2012, at 6:05 AM

Amy I hope it works. We are way to focus on sports, and not on arts. I hope it all works out for your son and for others!!! i know that if they had a major music class or performance, my daughter would have been so signed up in it. I love sports, but it is not for everyone, but (shhh don't tell everyone) I really love art lol.

-- Posted by acerdj on Wed, Jun 27, 2012, at 6:09 AM

Property taxes are current. Look at the the clay county website and see how many landowners in the county are claiming Homestead Exemption on multiples houses. Iowa law only allows one Homestead exemption per landowner and it must be occupied 6 months out of the year and the owner must be living there on July 1st.

-- Posted by sherodh on Wed, Jun 27, 2012, at 7:38 PM

acerdj- I wasn't "jumping your crap". and my comments about people questioning if he owes additional money wasn't addressed to you.

I understand what makes one persons property value higher than the next, and yes a person can "care" what their neighbors property looks like but in all reality you can't "make" someone make their stuff look nice if they don't want it to, thus I don't fuss over it. People keep their things how they want them to look and there isn't a way for a neighbor to make them change that.

as far as the website you were talking about I was just asking, curious I guess, never heard of such a thing and never knew it was made open for the public to know about. So are people listed on there if they are simply behind on taxes or are they listed on there if their property is being sold due to owed taxes? and out of curiousity why would it be beneficial to anyone to make this public information? Makes me irritated how some things like that could be public information but not everyones court records are, so we can protect ourselves. I know they are here in Iowa but I think they should be in all states.

Sherodh- what is a homestead exemption? an extension on their tax debt? are the ones claiming this landlords?

I actually rented a very nice home, the landlord told me when the taxes were due although it was his responsibility to pay them, the month after they were due he sold the house and we had 30 days to get out! It was very shocking to us, guess he needed us to help pay those taxes.

-- Posted by AshlyMeyer on Thu, Jun 28, 2012, at 1:29 PM

Homestead exemption is a tax credit for people that live in their home 6mos out of the year and reside there on July 1st. You can by law only claim it on 1 residence. Landlords can only claim it on their personal residence( where they live ). I know of 3 landlords that claim it on more than 1 property.

-- Posted by sherodh on Thu, Jun 28, 2012, at 2:56 PM

Ashly, You can find all you want to know about your neighbors on www.clay.iowaassessors.com another web you can check out is iowacourtsonline also. It amazing what information you can find on the web.

A homestead exemption is a little break on the taxes you owe every six months for the property you own and live in.

-- Posted by retiredarmysarge on Thu, Jun 28, 2012, at 2:59 PM

Ashly sorry! Retiredarmy pretty much summed up your answeres. when you go to the iowa website type in just the numbers to any address like 1029 and it will pull up all 1029's in the clay county area. it says who owens it, picture of property, click on add and go thru it and you will see all kinds of stuff. at bottom of it you can view arial photo or get tax info and what the assessor thinks of it.

with the court one you get limited info unless you pay to get the details.

for your landlord, wow is all i can say!!! i would of had a few choice words. I hope you found something way better!!!!

sherodh, i hope to god non of mine are listed that way except for my actual house! you have me worried about it now. i need to double check, but those girls know us up there so hopefully they caught it or didn't put it on any. i would be so mad that non of us caught that. that is so not right!!!!

-- Posted by acerdj on Thu, Jun 28, 2012, at 8:05 PM

thanks retiredarmysarge for the info!

-- Posted by AshlyMeyer on Sat, Jun 30, 2012, at 1:08 PM

Why isn't Amy 'at liberty' to discuss the taxpayers' business? Is there something secret in the contracts that the taxpayers aren't supposed to see?

This guy has DEFAULTED on his contract more than once. How many chances is he supposed to get. IF the school hadn't maintained insurance AT TAXPAYER EXPENSE, we'd have even more problems.

Amy talked about donation to non-profits. This is supposed to be a BUSINESS. There's a HUGE difference.

This should be treated as any other BUSINESS situation -- and not behind closed doors, unless someone wants to come up with CASH to close the entire deal and get it out of the public venue.

-- Posted by Rake Mucker on Sat, Jul 21, 2012, at 11:25 AM

"At liberty to discuss..." in any legal situation, the attorney will ask you not to discuss the legal case in public. Everything I have discussed is either public information, or situations in which I have been a part as a board member or parent of a student.

The fact is, this IS a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Therefore, we can approach the public from that aspect. Unlike many nonprofit organizations, we have actually put in $110k for that school building -- some communities give their school buildings away to nonprofits for $1. Also, we have added $24k to the tax base, AND we are set to bring $3 million into Spencer. Unless of course Spencer would rather we take it somewhere else. We could instead spend that $3 million in Woodbury or Plymouth counties where the $3 million in commissions are actually located.

That's all I was saying on my blog. If you watch the movie, you will understand.

-- Posted by AmyPeterson on Sun, Jul 22, 2012, at 9:27 PM

Wasn't Tony LIVING on the school property? Wouldn't that legally negate the charitable aspect of the situation?

-- Posted by Rake Mucker on Tue, Jul 31, 2012, at 11:52 AM

Tony lived there, as well as his son, Jon, and another student. But how would that negate their nonprofit mission? It's not so different from a church (most of those are a certain type of nonprofit entity) providing a parsonage or housing allowance to its pastor. In earlier times, the reason for this was because a pastor, doing the work of the Lord, earned a low salary. This is hardly ever the case (the low salary) anymore, but it's still useful as an alternate form of compensation.

It's not so different from a private boarding school providing housing for their faculty and families on campus. For Tony, it was his main compensation as he did not take a regular salary -- he paid the bills of the school and bought food, fuel and other necessities to maintain the school and its artists from what funds came in.

-- Posted by AmyPeterson on Thu, Aug 2, 2012, at 6:58 AM

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