Although the first readings of the Turlock Unified School District Board Policy updates do not usually merit in-depth explanation, a potential change that would charge outside groups for the usage of school facilities warranted a discussion on Tuesday.
“Currently, we have language that allows outside user groups to use our facilities without charge by nonprofit organizations, clubs, or associations organized to promote youth in school activities,” said Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Mike Trainor.
According to Trainor, the current policy language is considered to be “loose” and opens it up for interpretation regarding which groups get to use the facilities for free.
“Under the current board policy, if you benefit this District, you could have an argument to use the facilities for free,” stated Trainor. “However, under the Civic Center Act we have the right to charge direct costs, which is essentially recouping our costs to operate a facility.”
As recommended on Tuesday, the new board policy only allows groups directly associated with the school district to use facilities for free.
“The interpretation of that is if you are affiliated with the school district, you can use the facilities for free,” said Trainor. “If you are not affiliated with the school district you need to pay a direct charge.”
Among organizations that would be able to utilize school facilities and grounds for free are school clubs, athletic groups, and parent-teacher association site council meetings.
If approved, community groups and other outside groups will have to pay an hourly fee for the use of specific school facilities.
“Even though this makes it a little clearer, it sounds like it’s going to be limited in scope,” said TUSD Board President Frank Lima. “Groups like the Boy Scouts and the Girls Scouts are now going to be charged under this new policy.”
“As uncomfortable as that is, the reality of the situation is we are just getting flooded with an abundance of requests to use the facilities and we’re having a hard time controlling that use,” responded Trainor.