'Outrageous' New Policy Charges Groups To Use School Facilities
Wayne Boys & Girls Club calls policy “outrageous," says it would have cost group more than $400,000 last year.
Residents are expected to speak out against a new district policy regarding the use of school facilities by municipal and community organizations at a Board of Education meeting on Thursday.
Organizations and groups will have to pay to use district-owned facilities. The board approved the new policy last month.
The policy groups the various local organizations into different classes. Different rules apply to each class.
Superintendent Ray Gonzalez did not provide a fee schedule but said in a statement that the fees would be “reasonable so they don’t negatively impact community programs.”
Divisions of local municipal government, and organizations indirectly related to the schools, including the Wayne Boys & Girls Club, the Police Athletic League (PAL), the municipal soccer program, little league, senior citizen groups, and community political organizations are class two organizations. They will have to pay to use a facility.
Organizations using school facilities for yearlong, seasonal, or multiple programs will enter into an annual contract with the district. Usage fees will be negotiated by the board and included in the contracts.
Joe Lynch, chief professional officer of the Wayne Boys & Girls Club, said he has seen the policy. He called it “outrageous.”
Lynch said the club performed an assessment of how much it used district-owned facilities in 2011. He said if policy was in place then the club would have paid the district $410,000.
The club uses the facilities for several outdoor sports programs, including soccer, football, softball, and field hockey.
“We’re all going to feel the pinch,” Lynch said.
Dan Halewicz, director of administration and finance for the Wayne PAL, could not be reached for comment.
A shared services agreement already exists between the board and the township.
The township may use turf fields two nights a week on weekdays after 6 p.m., on Saturdays after any of school programs have concluded, and on Sundays. The township must pay a $500 security deposit prior to a permit being issued.
Private groups and organizations must pay to use the facilities as well. They are classified as class three organizations. They must pay a $1,000 security deposit.
Superintendent Ray Gonzalez said the board developed the fee program to help the district “offset the consistent, ongoing use of our various properties.”
Gonzalez also said the decision is a financial one. The board lost $1.7 million when the council recommended that amount be cut after residents voted down the budget in 2010. The board cut $2.7 million during the budget process this year in order to get the tax levy below the state-mandated 2 percent increase cap.
Gonzalez said the budget continues to be trimmed annually to appropriate funds for building and grounds maintenance.
“We remain committed to exploring creative partnerships with frequent community-based users of school facilities that could help us meet our budget and facility needs, while also supporting their service of Wayne Township’s boys and girls.”
School classes, clubs, booster clubs, and Parent Teacher Organizations will be given first preference to use facilities before the other organizations listed in the policy.