Board mulls revisions for use of schools

Published Feb 6, 2018 at 11:40am

A revised policy and regulation on community use of school facilities, including updating fees for usage, is being considered by the Board of Education.

Proposed changes include charging fees per hour rather than for multi-hour periods; slightly lowering fees in some instances and raising them in others; and more general references to types of groups that will have fees waived.

First readings of the revised policy and accompanying regulation were approved Thursday night by the Board of Education. The items may be further reviewed before the board considers final adoption.

Among proposed revisions for community usage, compared to the current policy and regulations:

• Fees for use of auditoriums — Rome Free Academy, $110 per hour; Strough Middle School, $50 per hour; Staley Elementary School, $30 per hour. Current fees include RFA, $520 per four-hour period, and $130 for each hour thereafter; Strough and Staley, $100 per four-hour period until 10 p.m. and $30 per hour thereafter.

• Fees for use of gymnasiums — RFA, $100 per hour; Strough, Staley and the RFA Stadium support facility, $30 per hour. Current fees include RFA, $420 per four-hour period until 10 p.m. and $30 per hour thereafter; Strough, Staley and stadium support facility, $100 per four-hour period until 10 p.m. and $30 per hour thereafter.

• Other gymnasiums and multi-purpose rooms including elementary schools — $20 per hour. Current fees are $60 per four-hour period until 10 p.m. and $20 per hour thereafter.

• RFA pool — $75 per hour. Current fee is $300 per four-hour period until 10 p.m. and $50 per hour thereafter.

• When participants are Rome school district students, fees will be waived when no admission is charged. Fees will be waived for parent-teacher organizations; collective bargaining units of the Rome school district; educational, civic and religious organizations including 501c3 not-for-profit groups. The current documents, in comparison, cite several examples of such organizations.

• RFA Stadium and neighboring baseball field — Practice without lights, $75 per hour, up from current $50 per hour; practice with lights, $125 per hour, up from current $100 per hour; games or scrimmages without lights, $150 per hour, compared to the current $275 per event; games or scrimmages with lights, $250 per hour, compared to the current $500 per event. Events lasting longer than six hours will be charged a daily fee of $1,500.

In explaining the revisions, district Superintendent Peter C. Blake said Monday “the district for years hadn’t followed the policy relative to the application of fees. I felt it was time to build a policy that was fair and reflected the practice that we operate under.”

The proposed change to per-hour fees stemmed from “a recommendation from the business office so that there was consistency between all charges,” Blake commented. “Some charges being per event while other being per hour only leads to mistakes. Going to per-hour fees simply makes the policy easier to understand and enact.”

Regarding changes in the fee rates, “the reality is that fees are collected on a very rare occasion because the practice had become very all-encompassing,” Blake observed. “The new policy provides opportunity for almost all community organizations to utilize our facilities either free of charge, or for a minimal fee. Our desire is to provide facilities for our community, not have barriers to the use of facilities.”

Current documents are listed on the district’s website as policy 1020 along with regulations 1020.1 and 1020.2 through links in the district “policies & committees” category.