VINCENT - The Warren Local Board of Education is expected to revise a policy governing community use of facilities over concerns it would be a burden on nonprofit youth sports and community groups.
The first draft of the policy met with resistance when it was learned youth sports leagues would be charged on an hourly basis for using district facilities or a flat $270 fee to use the fields for a season.
A new draft, expected to have a first reading this month, provides ways for nonprofit groups to avoid being charged anything beyond a $500 deposit that would be refunded at the end of the year if no damage was done to the facilities.
EVAN BEVINS The Marietta Times
Caleb Davis, right, takes on Ohio Valley Vipers teammate Jacob Scheff during a U-8 soccer practice Monday evening at Barlow-Vincent Elementary School.
EVAN BEVINS The Marietta Times
Ohio Valley Vipers U-8 team members Zara Strahler, right, and Brayden Hurley get ready to resume practice.
"It's more community friendly," said Jon Hurley, president of the Ohio Valley Soccer League, in which more than 300 children ages 4 to 14 played this past spring. "To me, it sounds like they listened to what the concerns of the community were and they heeded them."
Board of education member Bob Allen, chairman of the board's buildings and grounds committee, said the goal of the policy is not to make money for the district but to avoid additional costs.
"I think there was a good, open discussion and that's how we arrived at a policy most would agree is fair and acceptable," he said.
- Nonprofit groups may avoid hourly fees for facilities usage by providing a list of at least three adults responsible for the group's facility use, submitting a $500 refundable deposit, having its financial records reviewed and giving the treasurer's office a copy of the group's liability insurance policy with the school district listed as an "other insured."
- The initial draft of the policy would have charged youth sports groups $270 a season to use district ball fields.
- A designated staff person must be present in any district facility being used by an outside group. That group must pay for the staff member's time unless it occurs when custodial service is already being provided or a staff member is one of the responsible parties listed on the group's application.
- Varsity athletic facilities are not available for use by nonprofit adult groups or profit-making groups. Nonprofit youth groups may only use varsity athletic facilities with permission and may be asked to make donations for the upkeep of the facilities.
Source: Warren Local Schools.
The fees range from $2 an hour for nonprofit youth groups to use an elementary classroom to $40 an hour for commercial groups to use the high school gym.
Jenny Rauch, coordinator for the Barlow-Vincent Recreational Basketball League, said the original proposal had her organization looking at raising fees for the first time in nearly a decade. But the current version should allow them to keep their current rates.
"I honestly am OK with the $500 deposit," Rauch said. "This is a much better solution."
In order to avoid hourly fees, nonprofit groups must meet certain standards, including submitting the $500 deposit, providing the name of at least three adults who will be responsible for the group's facility use and listing the district as an "other insured" on the group's liability insurance.
The final draft of the policy will include a provision waiving the deposit for small groups like Boy Scouts and 4-H that only use a single classroom, Superintendent Tom Gibbs said in an email Monday.
Hurley noted the $500 can be rolled over from year to year unless money has to be deducted for damages for which the group was responsible.
"If you keep rolling it over every year, it's kind of a (one-time) fee," he said.
Another potential cost is paying to have a district staff member on hand during events. The policy notes this can be avoided if the event is held by a nonprofit group during a time when custodial service is already being provided or if one of the group's responsible parties is a district employee with a key to the building.
Rauch can fill that role for her group since she is the girls junior high basketball coach at Barlow-Vincent Elementary School.
The issue of who had access to the district's facilities started the review of the policy, Allen said. A couple of times, children were found unsupervised in the gym at Little Hocking Elementary School.
"The problem we had was many, many folks had keys," Allen said.
One reason the original proposal drew so much criticism is that a number of youth league supporters contribute to the school district through donations or maintenance and upkeep at fields.
"Any money that we make, we donate right back to the school," Rauch said.
The league has provided basketballs, pumps and other equipment for Barlow-Vincent's junior high basketball program and physical education classes.
Allen noted that some groups were making "significant donations" which took the place of a fee. But the previous fee, which was not immediately available, was not being enforced across the board. He also said the new policy shouldn't prevent those groups from continuing to donate if they so choose.
"As long as there's not damage, there's no financial hardship," he said.
The policy is expected to be considered at the next building and grounds committee meeting at 6:15 p.m. Aug. 15, with the first reading expected to be held by the full board at its 6:30 p.m. meeting that night. A final reading for adoption would likely take place in September.