Danedri Thompson
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Changes to USD 231’s school usage policy may result in higher fees for some Gardner Parks and Recreation programs.
While the majority of parks and recreation programs will continue to use district facilities at reduced fees, a few programs that Edgerton council hosts short meeting may use specialized equipment or use the schools during breaks and weekends may incur charges.
“If there’s a rehearsal or a tryout for a theatre group when school is in session, they are considered a parks and recreation program or event, then those fees will not be charged,” Parks and Recreation Director Jeff Stewart explained. “If there is a performance on a non-school day such as a weekend when they typically have their performances, we are charged some fees at a reduced rate.”
The increased fees for school usage may translate into slightly higher fees for participants in some parks and recreation programs.
Board of education members adopted changes to the school usage policy last summer. At the time, Gary Diener, director of operations for the school district, said the goal of the changes was to ensure that the school usage policy is fair and equitable. Increased fees on weekends and when school is not in session are to cover the costs of opening buildings when school is not in session.
The new policy closes the schools to outside groups during Spring and Fall Breaks.
“It all boils down to the district’s preference to not rent out facilities during Spring Break because, historically, that is when we do heavy cleaning that is easier to do over a period of time when kids are not around,” Diener explained. The district would accept special requests, however, when unique situations arise.
He recently sent a letter to community organizations and patrons who rented school space during the 2011-2012 school year explaining the new policies. The school usage policy outlines fees and requirements to rent school space. Specifically, a fee will be assessed for custodial supervision time if the facility request falls outside the custodian’s normal work day. Sunday usage, with the exception of churches, will be limited to usage times between 1 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Stewart said that shouldn’t affect the city’s parks and recreation budget.
Sports programs typically use school gymnasiums for practices Mondays through Fridays, though the city uses school facilities for games on Saturdays. However, many of the fees are waived or greatly reduced for the city.
“I think the biggest reason for that is that we’ve had a very close and good relationship with the school district,” Stewart said.
One significant change creates deadlines for groups to submit requests to use the facilities.
The changes do not apply to church groups that use school buildings on a weekly basis.
Stewart said the update to the school usage policy has been an ongoing process.
“I think there will be some questions as we move forward in the early stages,” Stewart said. “We’ll still have some access to have our sporting events to take place in the gymnasium.
For things for the theatre groups and things like that we’ll have to make special requests.”