District Criticized For New Facilities Fees
Board members apologize to packed room at a meeting on Thursday night, say they could have done a better job informing community leaders of the changes.
Residents and leaders of various Wayne athletic organizations expressed their displeasure with the Board of Education Thursday regarding the district’s policy that requires local community organizations to pay fees to use district-owned facilities, mainly sports fields.
The board approved the revised policy late last month. The changes go into effect July 1.
Jason Krakower, a member of the board of directors of the Wayne Soccer Club said that the organization might have to either cut services next season to compensate for paying to use school athletic fields or raise its $425 participation fee. The organization is a not-for-profit entity. The club operates nine months a year.
Krakower said the soccer club never paid to use a facility before but now might have to pay $900 just to hold three practices on just one day.
“We offer a soccer-academy level program at half the cost of what a soccer academy would charge,” Krakower said.
District officials have said that the policy of charging for the use of facilities is not new, but that specific organizations were not previously named in the policy. Board President Donald Pavlak Jr. could not say which organizations were charged in the past.
Bruce Fieggen said that “any amount is too much” in order for his two sons to play soccer.
“Sports are our opportunity to get kids away from iPads, iTouches, and televisions,” he said.
Officials said they plan on sitting down with representatives from the larger organizations and groups to negotiate usage fees.
“We should have done a better job of rolling this out,” said board member Robert Ceberio. “And we have to take responsibility for what happened.”
John Lynch, chief professional officer of the Boys & Girls Club, said that had the fee structure been in place last year, the organization would have needed to pay the district $410,000.
Pavlak said it was never the board's intention to charge local organizations hundreds of thousands of dollars to use the facilities.
The new fee schedule places various school and community organizations into different classes, which pay different fees to use the facilities. The soccer club, along with the little league, Police Athletic League, and the Boys & Girls Club of Wayne, is a class two organization. They would pay between $125 and $500 to use fields at any of the district’s schools either during the day or at dusk. Prices vary by facility and time of day.
Class one organizations, those directly affiliated with the district and the Parent Teacher Organization, will only be charged a $45 custodial fee when applicable.
Class three organizations pay the most, between $150 and $650 to use the facilities. Rates are based on four hours of use. The policy classifies these entities as “private groups and organizations.”