The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

July 20, 2012

Lewisburg board may revise fees for school building use

LEWISBURG — A summer assignment for the Lewisburg school board: Mull over a revised facilities-use fee structure that Superintendent Mark DiRocco distributed at Thursday night’s meeting.

The move follows calls DiRocco said he received from a number of organizations in May and June that the current prices to use school district properties are proving a hardship.

Katie Davis, executive director of the Lewisburg Area Recreation Authority, brought home the point at the meeting when she asked the board to grant LARA “affiliated organization” status that would let the group use school district facilities for free.

That status was part of a change the school district made in its 2011 facilities fee plan that eliminated free use of properties for nonprofit organizations.

With the school district usage fees put into play last August, LARA now faces a “financial challenge” that could cause it to cut quite a few programs, Davis said.

“The fee structure is a burden for most,” DiRocco said. “It’s not our intention to gouge anyone.”

The changes made last year resulted in just $1,800 more in funds as most organizations, no longer exempt from fees, found cheaper facilities to use in other school districts and beyond.

“We seem to have lost groups that used us before, and that was not our intention,” DiRocco said.

The board will review the plan and discuss it further within the next few weeks, hoping to pass a new fee structure before the start of the 2012-13 school year.

The proposed fee plan would add hourly, daily and weekend rates and drop the first-three-hours and per-additional-hours rate. For instance, using an auditorium would go from $150 for the first three hours to $15 per hour.

Seasonal and yearly fees would remain but at substantially lower costs.

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