West Grand may hike school building-use fees
Sky-Hi Daily News
Grand County, CO Colorado
The Kremmling community has long made use of West Grand school buildings for functions and activities, from children’s dance classes and adult volleyball leagues to political party conventions and church group activities.
Every time the school opened the building to the community in recent years, however, it was taking on the cost of wear and tear, maintenance, utilities, staff and cleaning, said Superintendent Kevin Chalfant.
“Like all government buildings, security must be maintained and staff must be present to insure that expensive equipment is protected and used properly,” Chalfant said.
Chalfant noted that while some groups take good care of the building, others take it for granted and destroy property or leave messes in their wake.
Now, the school district is working to recoup those costs through user fees and a building use policy. Nominal fees went into effect earlier this year and higher fees are being considered for next year.
The fees will cover the costs of staffing, maintaining and cleaning the building for outside groups, taking that burden off the school district during a tough financial crisis.
“Both for-profit and other organizations have realized that using the school facilities for free has benefited them financially, either in profits or not needing to invest in their own facilities,” Chalfant said. “It has become acceptable to use the school facilities for free and let the school, or tax payers, pay for energy, maintenance, custodial time and equipment.”
The new policy requires that groups using the building have a West Grand staff representative with a key to the building who is responsible for the building while the group is there.
Most community groups already know a teacher or staff member that’s willing to volunteer this role, Chalfant said. Out-of-town groups have to pay for the staff person’s time.
The District Accountability Committee’s suggested fees for the upcoming school year range from $30-$300 for profit groups, depending on the part of the building that’s being used, how long it’s needed and the number of people in the group. The gym or middle school multipurpose room, for instance, would be $75 for a half-day (less than 4 hours) with small groups. Non-profits would pay $20 for a half-day in the gym with a small group (less than 25 people), per the DAC recommendation.
For a group that using the building weekly – such as the Peewee programs – these fees could potentially add up to an additional $50 per student for the season, said Kim Cameron, a concerned citizen who has argued to DAC and the school board that the proposed fees are too high.
“Our desire is not to make money on building usage but to be good stewards of the facilities the tax payers have provided,” Chalfant said in an open letter to the community that was posted on the school’s website in January.
“We feel it is prudent to use every dollar to maintain educational programs for our students, not supplement adult or outside programs that wish to use our facilities,” he added. “Every dollar we spend paying for maintenance, supervision and cleanup of outside groups is a dollar not spent on kids.”
The fees will be reviewed as part of the bigger budget picture as the school board pulls together its final numbers for the 2010-2011 school year in the month to come.
– Reid Armstrong can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19610 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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