A strong spell of déjà vu came over the room Tuesday at the Missoula County Public Schools board of trustees' meeting.
It was much like a scene that took place here three years ago - the trustees voted to extend the Missoula International School's lease of the Prescott School building, and the same opposition spoke against it.
Missoula International School will now remain in the Prescott School building through 2017.
Ross Best, who spoke against the extension of the private Spanish-immersion school's lease in 2008 when it was last approved for a three-year extension, told trustees they needed to produce a report detailing the economic impact of leasing the building to a private school. He said it draws students away from public schools and ultimately results in MCPS losing money.
Jeanne Joscelyn, a local parent, presented a poster board covered in statistics and literature exemplifying her opposition to the lease extension.
"It is time to listen to the people you represent. These are the beneficiaries of MCPS, not private schools," she said.
Missoula International School has leased the Prescott building in the lower Rattlesnake Valley since the school district closed it in 2004 because of declining enrollments. The private school's current five-year lease ends July 31, 2012.
Pat McHugh, executive director of business and operations at MCPS, said the lease has generated $200,000 in revenue to date.
"The building is an income generator instead of absorbing income," said trustee James Sadler, citing that the school district would still have to pay for utilities if the building was vacant.
He also discredited the idea that leasing to MIS is subsidizing a private school.
"When parents make a choice for private school, and they don't choose that private school (MIS), they'd choose other private schools available in Missoula."
With the new lease also comes a new lease rate. In 2012, MIS will pay $55,000 for the building - $35,000 more than what it paid when it began leasing in 2004.
The rise in rent has been a steady one through the school's seven years of leasing the Prescott building, and will continue to increase into 2014 when MCPS will charge $60,000 - a comparable rate to what Walla Walla University pays to lease Mount Jumbo Elementary in East Missoula.
Although MCPS use of the building in the future has not been ruled out, McHugh said the school district has no intention of using the building for its own purposes in the next five years.