Several representatives from community organizations said this week that higher rental fees to use Central York School District facilities could have dire consequences for their groups.
The school board held its first of two meetings Monday about the district's policies for renting facilities at the schools, including classrooms, gymnasiums, auditoriums and the natatorium.
Board president Michael Wagner said the meeting was at the request of several board members who wanted to make sure the existing rental policies benefit the district and the community. The board is using the meetings to hear from the public before making a decision about changes to the policy, which could include changing fees, looking at who receives fee waivers and the rules for those waivers, Wagner said.
The numbers: Last year, the district received $70,891 from groups that pay rental fees. The district could have received an additional $35,135 if certain groups with waivers paid fees, and an additional $3,700 if student and employee groups paid the fees.
Groups with waivers need to meet certain requirements, including at least 66 percent participation from Central York residents.
Some of the speakers — whose groups have traditionally received waivers — said their groups would be hurt if the fees were put in place.
"That would bankrupt us," said Mark Beck, president of Central York Aquatics.
The group uses the district's natatorium several days a week for multiple hours at a time. If the group was required to pay the base fee of $75 per hour, plus the cost of lifeguards, Beck said the group would not have enough money in its $90,000 budget.
Shelly Eaton, president of the teachers' association for the district, said the events they have in school buildings are fundraisers for individuals in the district. None of that money comes back to the association, she said.
"If any cost was incurred, it would negatively affect those students and those families," Eaton said.
Cost factors: Many group representatives wondered how much it costs the district to have the facilities running during the time extracurricular groups use the buildings.
Though "keeping the lights on" might be a small cost in comparison to other things, board member Michael Snyder pointed out the board was considering, and approved later that night, a four-day work week during the summer to save money on operating costs.
Some group spokespersons said they might be able to work with the district toward paying higher fees, if the extra expense to them is only a few thousand dollars.
Jeff Mirkovich, a representative of a club lacrosse team in the district, said "it wouldn't be crazy" to charge a slightly higher registration fee for families to go toward the district's rental fees. Mirkovich said if there are 10 or 12 groups who work toward that, it wouldn't be difficult to come up with the $35,000 that was not collected by the district last year.
District resident Jane Johnson said the district should take advantage of offers to compromise on the fees, to save money for other residents.
"As beautiful as our facilities are, as a taxpayer, I'm paying for it," Johnson said.
The school board will host another meeting about the rental policies from 6 to 7 p.m. Monday, May 18, at the Educational Service Center, 775 Marion Road in York.
— Reach Nikelle Snader at firstname.lastname@example.org.