Community Clubs Plea For Cut In School Charges

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The Payson school board absorbed a plea from at least one club for kids staggered by a dramatic increase in the fee the district charges for using school facilities.

The district recently imposed a 250-percent increase in the charge for using lighted practice fields in its ongoing effort to cope with its dwindling budget.

“It’s not reasonable and it’s not in line with what other districts are doing,” said Trevor Creighton of the $125-per-practice charge Club Payson must pay.

The 60 girls in the club use the practice fields twice a week, which adds up to $1,000 a month now that the district has boosted the fee from $50 to $125 per practice.

Speaking during the public comment portion of a recent board meeting, Creighton said that most districts don’t charge clubs that directly benefit students in the district. That includes Pine, Snowflake, Blue Ridge, Show Low and Florence.

The board made no comment on his plea, since the topic wasn’t on the regular agenda for discussion.

However, later in the meeting Superintendent Casey O’Brien reported that the district had improved its system for collecting fees for the use of its facilities, which had resulted in a big increase in fees charged to community groups.

However, Creighton argued that the district should give student-centered groups a break on the new, higher fee schedule.

He said the group has no impact on the district beyond the cost of turning on the lights once it gets dark.

“So $125 for a few hours of light? That doesn’t make sense,” he said, noting that the group provides its own $5 million liability coverage and cleans up the fields after each use.

“I could understand it if we’re having a tournament, with lots of spectators, water and sewage and custodial supplies and potential for a mess — but does it make sense that we have to pay $1,000 for a few hours of practice twice a week?”

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