The Warren County School District Board of School Directors Physical Plant and Facilities Committee reviewed district policy concerning public usage of school facilities at their meeting Monday night.
The formal procedure follows adoption of a district policy last year stating, "Community organizations are welcome to use the facilities of the district for worthwhile purposes as long as the use does not interfere with the educational program or a school sponsored activity."
The procedure outlines restrictions and rental fees for such usage.
Under the guidelines, groups that could potentially use school facilities are broken down into three groups with different restrictions and fees set for site usage.
Group I includes organizations with, "a direct affiliation with the district." Organizations specifically cited as Group I include district and school sponsored activities, adult and continuing education groups, the school board and associated committees, PTA/PTO groups, booster clubs, extra and co-curricular activities, bargaining units, service clubs and area recreation departments.
This group is not charged any rental fees for facilities being used in direct relation to their organizations purpose.
Group II consists of community organizations, "that directly serve the district youth where at least 75 percent of the participants are residents of the district." Organizations specifically cited as Group II include; sports groups, salvation army groups, boy and girl scouts and organizations in Group I using facilities not directly related to their purpose.
Group II is charged a rental fee at a discounted rate.
Group III includes all other groups.
Group III is charged a full rental fee.
All three groups are responsible for any labor costs incurred during usage, such as district personnel used to open and close facilities, and any additional expenses to the district.
Approval of facilities usage, possible waiver of any fees or special exceptions are currently under the discretion of the administration at each school building.
"I wouldn't have a problem with waiving some groups' fees if we had a staff member on-site already to open up for them and lock up," Superintendent Brandon Hufnagel said in regards to a youth athletics group using district facilities to practice. "But if it's at a time no one was there, we'd be paying someone to come in."
Hufnagel suggested possible fee waivers and exceptions to established facilities usage guidelines be approved through the district's central office.
"It's more work for us, but it ensures it will be consistent," Hufnagel noted.
District director of Buildings and Grounds Services Norbert Kennerknecht noted the school directors don't set procedure only underlying policy, indicating implementation was up to district administration.
"It allows the administration the freedom to implement things however they need to," Kennerknecht noted.
However, the district will be officially voting concerning rental fee rates. The committee asked the administration to put together a formal resolution concerning the fee rates for board approval at the board of directors next meeting on Monday, Oct. 1. The board will also consider making rate setting for facilities rentals a regular part of the district's annual re-organization meeting each January.
Current rental fees range between $15 and $200 for Group III, undiscounted rentals depending on facility requested and type of usage. A comparison chart included with the procedure presentation shows rental rates comparable to other school districts in the region.
A listing of 32 restrictions and guidelines is included in the official school procedure documentation.
"Our first duty isn't to these groups," Board of School Directors President Arthur Stewart said of the procedure guidelines. "It's to the education of students.'