The governing boards for KSPS and Spokane Public Schools have each agreed to begin negotiations to separate the public television station from the school district.
The Friends of KSPS board voted unanimously to move forward just as Spokane Public Schools’ board did on Wednesday, said Gary Stokes, Friends of KSPS executive director.
He added, “The board, the staff and those from the school working on this project are all ready to begin real work and reach that finish line within the next year.”
The school district licensed the station and began operations in 1967 during a time when it was common for public television stations to be associated with government entities. KSPS is one of only six public TV stations nationwide that are still owned by a government entity, according to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Through the years, the Friends of KSPS has raised increasingly more money for the station and the organization is the station’s primary funder. Stokes thinks the nonprofit now may be in a position to take over financial control. In the last 10 years, the Friends have contributed about $15 million to the school district for operation of the station while the district’s contribution has hovered around $300,000 annually.
The district and the Friends of KSPS hired Public Radio Capital to analyze whether the switch is viable. The consulting firm determined that by 2023, KSPS could generate an additional $400,000 in positive cash flow.
The transition will take about a year. Details on equipment, employees, the TV station’s building and application to the Federal Communications Commission still need to be worked out.
Said Stokes, “We are all excited about the changes for both organizations.”