A Los Banos Unified School District official is attempting to smooth over what he says were misunderstandings about a barn rental for students in the FFA program.
Paul Enos, the district's secondary area administrator, said school board members did not have enough information when their ire was raised in February about a rental they expected to cost $5 for five years ballooning to a proposal for nearly $20,000.
"I believe that $300 a month is more than reasonable for what we're getting," Enos said.
Faced with an FFA program from a second high school that opened in 2010, the district sought a larger facility last year to house students' animals. A barn owned by Fred Oliveira Farms was chosen.
Board members thought the Ortigalita Road facility would be leased at $1 per year, but when the contract came up for approval in February it was $3,600 a month, for a total of $18,000. School board members were outraged.
Since that time, Enos said he has explained to the board that the $1 rental fee came from a previous contract the district had with the owner of a smaller facility on Ramos Road. He said the Ortigalita site was used by the district 15 years ago when it was owned by someone else. He said that 1990s contract was also for $300 per month.
Most recently, students have kept animals at the Fred Oliveira Farms barn since July. Enos said the district did not pay for use of the facility for the first six months it was being used. The district did, however, pay an estimated $10,000 to $15,000 for fencing, electric wiring, water access and roofing for the barn. Enos said the money for repairs and the rental costs are being paid for through a grant, not from the district's general fund.
President Chase Hurley said he has spoken with Enos and representatives from Fred Olivera Farms and he and the school board members are satisfied with the one-year agreement for $3,600 that is now in place.
"I'm comfortable with it and we're looking to hammer out a multiyear deal," he said.