Across the county, if a group wants to host a meeting or other event at their local school, how much they will pay depends on who they are.
Schools are willing to open up their classrooms, auditoriums, gymnasiums, pools and athletic fields to local groups, but in some cases that comes with a cost.
This month, Center Grove schools changed who has to pay — and who doesn’t. One of the reasons for the change was because groups that use the buildings or facilities that serve Center Grove students had increased their membership or activity fees, citing the cost to rent school facilities, school board member Adam Norman said.
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The hope of school board members was that changing those fees would allow groups to lower their charges, saving money for Center Grove families, Norman said.
The biggest change in the school district’s policy is in whom they charge, and now the school district is more in line with other schools around the county.
In the past, Center Grove charged fees to any group that wasn’t directly tied to the schools, including Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Bantam sports, according to the policy. Those groups weren’t charged on weekdays, but on weekends would be charged the cost for employees needed inside the buildings, including $35 per hour for custodians and $35 per hour for food service workers, the policy said.
That policy was different from some other local school districts, which only charge commercial groups that are not connected to the community or schools.
Center Grove school board members said they wanted to make sure their buildings were accessible to local groups that mainly serve students.
“Schools are the social facilities in White River Township. We don’t want to see groups not be allowed to practice or gather,” school board member Carol Tumey said.
Allowing more groups to use school buildings is something the school districts wants, as long as that doesn’t become a financial burden, said Paul Gabriel, Center Grove’s chief financial officer.
Under the new policy approved this month, groups that are charged for using Center Grove schools are ones that do not mostly consist of Center Grove students, according to the policy. Those groups would be charged anywhere from $30 for a classroom to $350 for the high school auditorium, gym or pool to $500 for the football field, along per hour charges for staff needed in the building.
Any money the school district collects goes towards the cost of keeping the building open for those groups, Gabriel said.
Groups that consist mostly of Center Grove students would not be charged, unless extra staff is needed on a Saturday or they want to use the building on a Sunday, when the school district discourages renting facilities to anyone in order to save on utility costs.
Across the county, most schools have a similar policy.
At Franklin schools, groups that are run by the school or consist of mostly Franklin students typically aren’t charged to use school facilities, unless the school has to pay employees who usually wouldn’t be there during that time, director of operations Bill Doty said.
“A lot of times they are groups around here that we want to partner with and want to help,” Doty said.
If a group is doing a fundraiser, they don’t want to charge them since that would take away from the money they raise to help the community, he said.
And when the school district does charge a group, such as if a company or organization wants to use the auditorium for a meeting or presentation, then how much they are charged is determined on a case-by-case basis depending on what they are using and the costs to keep the building open, Doty said. For example, using the auditorium for up to two hours costs $100, and for up to six hours costs $300, but other fees may be charged based on the equipment the group needs to use and employees needed inside the building, he said.
At Greenwood schools, groups involved with the schools aren’t charged to use the facilities under a policy that has been in place for more than five years, assistant superintendent Todd Pritchett said. School officials are looking at updating that policy, since they are building a new middle school and fieldhouse with indoor courts next to the high school, he said.
But the policies will likely remain mostly the same: focused on school facilities being used for students. And he doesn’t expect too many other groups to even be able to use the facilities, since they are typically booked by student and school groups, he said.
“Facilities will continue to remain focused on students, that’s why we built them,” Pritchett said.
“I think they will be mostly filled with school activities that didn’t have space to use before.”
Here is a look at some local school district’s policies for using their facilities:
Class 1: groups that consist of mostly Center Grove students, including Boy Scouts or other groups
No charge, except on Sundays
Class 2: groups not included in class 1
Fees range from $30 for a classroom to $350 for the auditorium, pool or gym at Center Grove High School and $500 for the football field
Other fees could also be charged, including if basketball goals are needed, or if staff, such as custodians or food service workers, are needed.
Rates will increase by 50 percent for groups based outside of the White River Township area.
Group 1: groups with direct ties to the schools, including extracurricular activities, parent-teacher organizations and the education foundation
No charge on weekdays
On weekends, groups would be charged for any personnel required to work, including $35 per hour for custodians and $30 per hour for technicians
Group 2: groups that support the schools, including Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and athletic team feeders
On weekdays, groups would be charged for any personnel required to work
On weekends, groups would be charged for any personnel and utility charge of $50 per hour with a minimum of two hours
Group 3: community groups not directly related to the school, including Lions Club, Rotary Club, homeowner associations and churches
On weekdays, groups would be charged for personnel required to work and rental fees, which range from $30 per hour to $100 per hour, with additional fees for equipment needed, such as projectors
On Saturdays, groups would be charged for personnel required to work, rental fees and utility charges
Group 1: school-affiliated and community groups, including the Boys and Girls Club, Girls Inc. and Franklin College
No fees, unless the event requires staff to work extended hours or during times the building would not normally be open.
Groups 2 and 3: Community and nonprofit groups, such as the Lions Club and churches, and commercial users
Fees are determined on a case by case basis depending on what is needed by the group.
Group 1: school groups and school-related organizations, such as Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, and government agencies, such as police and fire departments
Group 2: all other groups and organizations.
Facility usage fee of $20 to $90 per hour, depending on the facility. Maintenance fees of $32 per hour, with a minimum of two hours. Sound and lights technician fees of $35 per hour with a minimum of two hours.