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UPSD Introduces New Policy for Use of District Facilities
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer
2022-06-01

            A proposed fee schedule for the use of the Upper Perkiomen School District property by outside youth organizations significantly reduces the cost for the region's youth basketball and wrestling programs. However, it calls for increasing the rental expenses for Upper Perk Kiwanis Baseball by $1,600.

            Last week, the district's assistant superintendent presented a newly created policy to help defray the cost of using school facilities by outside groups. Andrea Farina described the details of Policy 707, which received the first of two reads during the May 26 workshop meeting, as the culmination of 14 months of work by the district's Policy Committee.

            According to a presentation by Farina, administrators revised the policy to minimize the financial impact being incurred due to rental maintenance, utilities usage and personnel costs, which were being deferred to the entire tax base within the community, as well as to minimize liability exposure.  The proposed fee structure will not cover all expenses.

            "We're trying to make (the use of district facilities) as affordable for everyone as possible," Member Keith McCarrick said. "We're not making any money, but we are attempting to stop the bleeding a little bit."

            The current policy – ratified in January 2017 – was not being implemented with fidelity by previous personnel, according to the assistant superintendent. Historically, youth organizations have paid no usage fees at any of the district's facilities, except for the use of the turf fields, according to Farina. She said the new charges are intended to help defray janitorial costs, wear and tear and the use of items such as soap and toilet paper, which are hard to calculate.

            "The charges for custodial service do not come close to the actual cost," Farina said during the meeting.

            The administrator identified the issue of liability as a prime concern. She described it as the "largest and most tangible cost" discussed by the committee. Under the proposed policy amendment, all activities involving outside organization will require the presence of a district representative. The district will also be required to supply a scoreboard operator for all sporting events.

            The new rates do not bury local organizations, according to Farina. She told the board the new fee structure, created to be equitable, reduces the cost for almost every group.

            Upper Perk Youth Basketball, the district's highest volume user, would be required to pay $780 per year rather than the $54,096 under the current policy, according to two spreadsheets provided by Farina. The new cost includes $325 for 30 ½ hours of rental fees at three schools and $455 in custodial fees.

            "I don't think it's fair to ask the entire community to pick up all the costs for the basketball organization," Farina said. 

The Upper Perk Takedown Club would be charged $62.50 under the proposed policy, compared to the current standard of $27,530.

            Youth field hockey would be charged $60 for facility usage compared to $683 under the current policy. Kiwanis Baseball would be charged $1,600 at the proposed rate.  It has no fees under the current policy.

            The five youth sports organizations are the only ones included on both spreadsheets. The sheets with the proposed costs include tabs for the Red Hill Band ($867) and Studio on Main ($3,420). Youth Softball ($10,855) and Perkiomen Legion baseball ($0) have tabs on the spreadsheet covering the current expenses only.

            For week nights, the proposed policy does not include a charge for custodial work or classroom use. It does incorporate a charge of $10 per hour to utilize a gymnasium and auditorium. Use of a grass field will cost $25 per session or $400 for the season. The presentation did not include a slide show for costs related to weekend usage.

            No organizations are paying fees to use the facilities during the current school year. In October 2021, the board approved waivers for the youth basketball, wrestling, field hockey and lacrosse organizations. In Jan. 13, the members approved similar waivers submitted by wresting club, the lacrosse and field hockey programs as well as the Valley Soccer Club.

            Farina described the proposed rates as reasonable. She said they compared favorably to figures currently utilized by neighboring districts such as Spring-Ford, Perkiomen Valley and Pottstown.

            According to the assistant superintendent, inaction by the school board on the proposed policy change would force administrators to implement the current policy. Otherwise, the board approval would be required to waive future fees.

            "We can't do nothing," Farina said.


 

 

 

 

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