Dist. 205 continues debate on facility use fees. Discussion to continue later in the year.

A lengthy discussion was held Monday night by District 205 school board members regarding the rental fees for different district facilities.

These fees are administered when a community group, student group, non-profit, or for-profit entity rents district facilities. The district had previously established a fee structure for renting the various facilities, which led to some community groups being priced out of using these facilities.

Board members held a discussion in July regarding reducing hourly rental fees to make it more affordable for some of these groups to utilize the newly renovated spaces.

Some of the fees include a custodial fee, which will cover labor costs to hire a custodian to assist with access, setup, tear down, and cleaning. A supervision fee will cover a district employee to oversee the use of the facility and equipment, as well as ensure the safety and security of all parties involved. There could also be a technology fee associated with the rental if a district employee will be needed to run lighting or sound at the auditoriums, gyms, and outdoor facilities.

Along with the fee rates, the district had proposed different categories and rates for each, depending on the type of entity that was renting these spaces. The first two categories defined by the proposal include District groups (student clubs/activities/sports) and entities with a mutual facility agreement (such as the City of Galesburg).

Category three would be not-for-profit student groups whose participant roster includes at least 75 percent of currently enrolled District 205 students. Category four would be not-for-profit groups with valid Illinois Department of Revenue tax exemption status. Finally, category five would be community groups, organizations, and businesses that do not meet any of the other criteria.

Where did the numbers come from?

One of the questions asked by school board members was, how did the district settle on these numbers?

For a Category Five group to rent Sundberg Field or F&M Bank Stadium, it would cost them $200 an hour for use of the space. For that category to use the Hegg Performing Arts Center, it would cost them $300 an hour. Wicall Gym would cost a Category Five group $400 an hour. For a Category Four group, the costs are half-priced.

Another question asked, how did the district decide that student groups had to have at least 75% of their roster consisting of Galesburg District 205 students in order to qualify for Category Three pricing?

Category Two and Three groups would pay an annual $500 fee, plus applicable custodial and supervisor fees, for the use of District 205 facilities.

According to Assistant Superintendent Jennifer Hamm, administrators asked other districts that are part of the Western Big Six Conference and local school districts for their rental fee structure.

“We built our new facility use agreement last year when this was voted on, based on all of that information we had collected from area schools so we reviewed that again,” Hamm told the board Monday night. “And actually, our fees are less than a lot of other schools in the area. And the 75 percent language was taken directly from Sterling. And Sterling, we felt, had the most comparable fees and, actually, our fees are lower in some areas than Sterling’s are. So, when we looked, we’re actually really competitive.”

“There’s a lot of costs that are associated to maintaining our buildings that are outside of custodial, outside of supervision, and outside of tech… When you’re looking at the type of upkeep that we have to have in our facilities, all of that money is going into a queue account to help us to continue to paint, continue to have renovations, things like that, because we’re going to have more wear and tear if you have more people in the facilities.”

“So it’s a good problem because we want them to use our facilities but that means carpet wears out quicker, that means seats in the auditorium wear out more quickly, things need to be upgraded if its more than our students and our staff using that. So, that’s why we’re building this queue account fund in order to pay for those types of things, so we can keep our facilities nice.”

More discussion to come later this year

During the discussion on Monday, board members expressed concerns, mostly over the per-hour rental costs on not-for-profit groups, especially with requiring such a high number of participants in the student organizations being from District 205.

That requirement comes with a caveat. The students have to be currently enrolled in District 205. Recent graduates would not count towards the student requirement.

Board members discussed letting administrators have some discretion in deciding who qualified for the Category Three pricing. However, the district’s attorney, Luke Feeney, recommended to the board that they come up with a number instead of leaving it to the administrators. “I think that puts your administrators in an impossible situation and it would be a nightmare to implement. So, whatever the number is is what the board decides but I would not kick that back on administration.”

The item was only up for discussion on Monday. Board members asked for the building and grounds committee to continue working on the fee structure and bring it back in the future. Superintendent John Asplund suggested the updated fee structure could return sometime after the October regular board meeting.