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As Mid-Central readies to dissolve in June, the Core Educational Cooperative, formed to replace Mid-Central and the services it provides to area school districts, has been in formal discussions to purchase the Mid-Central building. (Daily Republic file photo)

Core co-op pursuing purchase of Mid-Central building

PLATTE — A newly formed educational cooperative is in discussions to purchase the Mid-Central Educational Cooperative's building.

As Mid-Central readies to dissolve in June, the Core Educational Cooperative, formed to replace Mid-Central and the services it provides to area school districts, has been in formal discussions to purchase the Mid-Central building.

According to Core meeting minutes, the Mid-Central Board of Directors recently made an offer to Core to sell the building for the appraised value of $350,000, to which the Core Board of Directors prepared a counter proposal of $280,000 for the lease of the building and all contents. With the proposal, Core indicated it would be responsible for fixing the roof of the building and all maintenance and other repairs.

Mid-Central Interim Director Bob Krietlow said the negotiations were discussed at last week's Mid-Central meeting during executive session, but referred questions to the organization's attorney, who could not be reached for comment Thursday. Core Interim Director Valerie Johnson also could not be reached for comment.

Education cooperatives provide targeted services to member districts in a wide range of specialties, including psychological services, speech, occupational and physical therapy, special education compliance and early childhood education. Each cooperative decides which services will be provided.

Formerly, the Core cooperative had discussed the option of renting a former law office in Platte.

Currently, the Core cooperative does not have an office. At its first meeting in November, the board determined the city of Platte would be home of the new cooperative, with a permanent location to be determined in the future, before officially beginning operations this summer.

Twelve area school districts in nine counties make up the Core co-op, which plans to run in place of the Mid-Central Educational Cooperative set to dissolve in June. The final regularly scheduled meeting for Mid-Central will be held June 15 in Platte, but Krietlow said there will likely be special meetings to follow.

In April 2016, the Mid-Central member schools voted to dissolve the cooperative following scandal and tragedy in 2015 involving Scott and Nicole Westerhuis and other employees.

Additionally, two former Mid-Central employees are facing felony charges for their alleged roles in helping cover up the Westerhuis' theft of funds. The two former Mid-Central employees had served as director and interim business manager.

After initially indicating it wanted "all the separation we can get from Mid-Central," the Core co-op's negotiations about the Mid-Central building mark the latest overlapping facets of the groups.

In March, the Core Educational Cooperative took over the Dial Corporation, a statewide distance education program currently run by Mid-Central. Core will act as the fiscal agent for Dial and provide leadership and virtual school administration. Core meeting minutes indicate the cooperative also plans to purchase 13 of Mid-Central's vehicles.

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