School Board Approves Big Jump In Facility Fees

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A divided Payson school board on Monday approved a dramatic increase in the fees charged by the district to use school facilities.

The new policy will impose as much as a four-fold increase in the amount the district charges outside groups to use classrooms, the auditorium, playing fields and meeting rooms.

For instance, the rate charged to nonprofit organizations for using the auditorium will rise from $100 to $250, while the charge for using the football stadium and track will increase from $50 to $250. Nonprofit groups like the Girl Scouts and others would see the charge for using a classroom rise by 33 percent to $40.

Commercial groups would pay even more, including $500 for the stadium and the auditorium and $75 for a classroom.

Superintendent Casey O’Brien said that the new charges may still not cover the district’s out-of-pocket costs for the rentals, but would bring the charges more in line with other districts.

However, board member Barbara Shepherd voted against the fee schedule, saying the increases seemed much too steep. She also objected to the lack of any information on the direct costs of running the various facilities as a basis for the fees.

“I kind of have a problem going from $100 to $400 for nonprofits.”

“It’s still a deal, certainly less than some others charge,” said O’Brien.

“Some of them charge less,” said Shepherd, referring to the rate comparison information included with the proposal.

“It’s an enormous expense to heat and cool” the facilities, countered O’Brien. He noted that one specific study showed it cost “several hundred” dollars to heat up a block of classrooms at Frontier Elementary School during after-school hours.

“We can’t afford to subsidize people using these facilities,” said board president Barbara Underwood.

“This is a good starting point. As the business office tracks it, we’ll get a better sense of the costs.”

But Shepherd persisted. “I just don’t feel I can approve it as it is. I approve of 75 percent of it.”

But board member Matt Van Camp endorsed the fees. “I think they’re all reasonable.” Van Camp also asked O’Brien if the groups using school facilities had been surveyed.

“People say they can’t believe how little we charge,” said O’Brien. He noted that various churches and the Girl Scouts have been the most consistent users of school facilities — and they mostly use classrooms after school hours.

“We just want to cover our costs,” said Underwood.

But Van Camp said “If we raised our costs to reflect the full cost of the facility, no one will use it. What we want to know is, what’s the cost to operate these facilities for them? We are a community school and they’re paying taxes, but we don’t want them to have to pay twice.”

“I’d like to see a list that says how much these facilities have been used,” said Shepherd.

“We can certainly bring that back to the board,” said O’Brien.

“But right now,” interjected Underwood, “I don’t see that any of these charges are unreasonable.”

Van Camp added, “These fees are nothing compared to what it would cost to really cover our own costs.”

“But to increase the charge for using the stadium from $100 to $400,” said Shepherd, “that’s not a little increase — that’s a lot.”

At the end of a spirited discussion, the board voted 3 to 1 to approve the higher fees, with Shepherd in opposition.

School District Fee Schedules:

Nonprofit Commercial

Auditorium

Mingus $90/hour $180/Hour

Prescott $28/hour $42/Hour

Winslow $500/day $1,000/day

Payson $250/use $500/use

Classroom

Mingus $5/hour $30/hour

Prescott $7/hour $10/hour

Winslow $50/day $100/day

Payson $40/use $75/use

Stadium (no lights)

Mingus $30/hour $100/hour

Prescott $42/hour $70/hour

Winslow $500/day $1,000/day

Payson $250/use $500/use

Cafeteria (no kitchen)

Mingus $30/hour $75/hour

Prescott $21/hour $35/hour

Winslow $125/day $250/day

Payson $75/use $150/use

Gym (high school)

Mingus $45/hour $100/hour

Prescott $22/hour $35/hour

Winslow $125/day $250/day

Payson $250/day $500/day

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