LTUSD clarifies plan to raise facilities fees |

LTUSD clarifies plan to raise facilities fees

Chad Sellmer, Tribune staff writer

The Lake Tahoe Unified School District is struggling to clarify a major misunderstanding regarding its proposed hike in use of facilities fees.

On Tuesday, the Tahoe Daily Tribune reported the district was proposing a two- to three-fold increase in the fees it charges for profit and nonprofit groups to use facilities such as the gymnasiums, fields, classrooms, multi-purpose rooms and parking lots.

The information came from a letter and informational spreadsheet sent out to 72 representatives of area organizations, including Little League, AYSO and Pop Warner. The letter informed these representatives that “Little League, football and soccer” would all be affected by the rate increase.

Many community members were upset by the news, speculating that a three-fold increase in the cost of field space, when passed on to participants, would spell the end of their organizations.

However, school administrators say the letter was a misinterpretation of the spreadsheet, which noted the increases would apply to field usage “plus $20 team or $7 per individual to the Community Athletic Coordinating Council.”

LTUSD facilities director Steve Morales said the spreadsheet should have indicated that those groups paying dues to the CACC would not be charged under the new fee schedule.

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“What we meant to say is just the opposite,” Morales said. “This does not apply if you are a member of the CACC.”

Those groups that pay into the CACC and thus will not be affected by the change include Pop Warner, Little League, LTUSD, city of South Lake Tahoe, Babe Ruth, ASA girls softball, adult soccer, AYSO soccer and club soccer.

“We have absolutely no intention of charging these groups beyond the CACC fees,” Morales added. “There has been no action within the CACC to raise fees this year, nor is there any request from the district to raise those fees. This facility use piece does not affect them.”

Additionally, LTUSD superintendent Dr. Diane Scheerhorn noted other groups that have signed “memos of understanding” with the school district and will not be included in the new fee schedule are the Boys & Girls Club of Lake Tahoe, Family Resource Center and Lake Tahoe Community College.

“Several of these groups use the facilities on an ongoing basis and we negotiate a fee that they pay for this ongoing use of the facilities,” Scheerhorn said, noting that the district hopes to recover some of its cost from those groups that use the facilities infrequently, or those who make money directly from that usage.

“We have to be careful that if they are making money, we don’t just give out our facilities,” she said. “Ten years have gone by and we have not looked at increasing our usage fees, while there has been an increase in the cost of maintaining the facilities, cleaning them after use and so on. Some of these groups are for-profit and may come in for a craft sale or something where they rent out the spaces and they keep the money for themselves. It is time we became competitive with other organizations for the use of our space.”

Scheerhorn said she has “personally called or sent a letter” to organization representatives in order to clarify the situation. She noted that other groups without special memos of understanding with the district will be subject to the proposed fee schedule if it is approved by the school board.

“We have meetings with all the groups that use our facilities on a regular basis,” Scheerhorn said. “Another meeting is scheduled for Monday at 2 p.m. to consider athletic clubs and those types of groups.”

The meeting, which is open to the public, will be held in the district office. The proposed use of facilities fee schedule will be discussed in open session of the LTUSD school board May 13 in the district office, beginning at 6 p.m.