Archive for Thursday, March 30, 2006

Board stays with current building use policy

March 30, 2006

At the request of one of its members, the De Soto USD 232 Board of Education discussed a couple of existing fee policies.

The topics were part of Monday's board meeting, which as the month's second is reserved for discussion items. Earlier this month, board member Don Clark asked that the board review fee policies for reserving space for certain school activities and attendance fees at school events.

Clark said a number of parents complained they had to pay for space in district schools for athletic banquets.

District operations director Jack Deyoe said there was no fee for weekday nights before 10 p.m. The fee was charged only for weekend events or those that went past 10 p.m. on weekdays.

The fees applied to times the district had to pay overtime for required custodial help, Deyoe said. The district also incurred higher costs during weekends because of the need to heat what would otherwise be an empty building, he said.

"We try to recover our costs," he said. "Those are expensive times, and most of the time, there's a choice."

The district does budget certain traditional gatherings, such as after proms that occur yearly, Deyoe said. Allowing "spur of the moment" activities to schedule on the weekend would make it very hard to budget, he said.

De Soto High School Principal Dave Morford said the policy encouraging weekday sports banquets was unpopular with his coaches. With a large number of fall and spring sports, it was very difficult for them to schedule banquets that didn't conflict with other student activities, he said.

Smaller sports teams avoid the problem by scheduling events in restaurants, Clark said. He suggested banquets for the larger sports teams of football, basketball and track be among the weekend events included in the budget.

That could be seen as unfair among other teams, it was agreed. The majority of the board thought it was a problem the coaches could solve without a change of policy.

Clark's second topic concerned fees charged to school district students to attend school events. Clark was concerned about all students at all levels who would find gate fees unaffordable, but singled out elementary students for whom elementary schools yearlong activity cards were not available.

"There are kids standing outside who can't afford to come in the facility," he said. "They are the same kids whose parents aren't as involved as we would like them to be."

It was suggested activity cards could be made available to all district students. That wouldn't make attendance free, but it would make it cheaper. However, it was agreed the district should require elementary school students go to events with adults.

"Safety is a concern if we go that way with elementary kids because they'll be dropped off," Superintendent Sharon Zoellner said. "Those little guys are short. In my worst-case scenario . . . "

Zoellner said she would explore if school PTOs could help with scholarships for elementary students who couldn't afford to attend district events.

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