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Birmingham pushes for Next, schools lease pact

By Kevin Elliott


City officials in Birmingham at their meeting on Monday, February 14, pushed for Birmingham Public Schools and Next, the organization that provides senior service programming for the city, to reach a long-term lease agreement for use of the Midvale School, 2121 Midvale.


Next is a 501(c)3, private non-profit organization that has provided senior service for four decades, including educational programming, art, fitness and other services. Next is funded through grants, donations, fundraising and participation of the four communities in the agreement. The organization has been located at the Midvale School since 1995, under a verbal agreement with the school district. Next provides services to seniors in Birmingham, Bingham Farms, Beverly Hills and Franklin Village.


Birmingham City Manager Tom Markus said Next uses about a third of the building.


“I would say the verbal arrangement has been discussed on and off with various superintendents, and they have not had any conclusion for Next to have a written agreement,” Markus said. “Securing a long-term written agreement would allow Next to develop long-range plans for physical improvements to the building and expand the footprint of the Midvale space to meet the growing demand for services. That presumes that if there were a lease, that would be addressed.”


Markus presented city commissioners with a resolution of support for a long-term written agreement to house Next services and to operate at Midvale School in Birmingham.


The resolution, which was passed 6-0, with commissioner Clinton Baller absent, is a supportive statement for Next in their request to Birmingham Public Schools for a long-term agreement. Further, the resolution “encourages the citizens of Birmingham to communicate their support for a long-term written agreement (lease) to the Birmingham Public School Board and Superintendent.”


The support stems from concerns voiced last year that the school district may seek to sell the building in the future, leaving the Next without a home.


Markus said the city provides about $123,000 each year to Next for services, or about 67 percent of what it receives from supporting communities. However, he said Birmingham and the other communities participation would likely increase as Next firms up its future.


“There is merit to having a serious conversation about what their future is within the school facility going forward,” Markus said. “I would argue you need to have that before you can even consider alternative facility locations. We did note that this could result in a change in expenditures going forward, and I think our participation will go up over time. They need to have a place to operate, even if they go to another facility.”

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