LTUSD school board passes new facilities fee schedule |

LTUSD school board passes new facilities fee schedule

Chad Sellmer, Tribune staff writer

The Lake Tahoe Unified School District School Board passed a revised facilities fee schedule Tuesday night that in some cases will double or triple the cost of using district property such as fields, gymnasiums and practice facilities.

The facilities fee schedule increases the hourly/daily cost of field space, gymnasiums, multi-purpose rooms and other district property for both nonprofit and for-profit groups. The new fees exclude those groups that already pay dues to the Community Athletic Coordinating Council such as Little League, Babe Ruth and AYSO soccer, among others. However, the new fees will apply to those groups in terms of occasional gymnasium or practice facility use.

A handful of other groups have signed “memorandums of understanding” with the district and their rates also remain unchanged.

LTUSD superintendent Dr. Diane Scheerhorn said the fees had not been increased in nearly 10 years and the new rates better reflect what other school districts in the area are charging for their facilities.

“We are looking at trying to make at least $40,000 in the (new) use-of-facilities fees,” Scheerhorn said, noting the district is in the midst of a severe budget shortfall and declining enrollment.

Already the district has generated additional revenue of $26,000 from reworking relationships with four organizations in the community and the new fee schedule should put total revenue at about $45,000 by the end of next year, Scheerhorn said. The facilities fee schedule becomes active for the 2003-2004 school year.

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Several community members remain opposed to the increase in fees, which will effect a number of groups, including private schools.

“It would be a real disservice to our kids to not be able to use the fields anymore, (but) there is no way we could afford to pay those fees,” said Danette Winslow, principal of St. Theresa Catholic School, noting that the increase would amount to $10 per use of the district’s field space, per kid. The school uses district fields for physical education classes.

“We live in a very unique community in that we have no fields other than those at the schools,” said Carry Loomis who is involved with ASA softball. “We are hoping that you see how important the (district) fields and facilities are for this town. I would hate to see more people leave.”

Susie Richards of Girl Scouts said the plan to charge more from cash-strapped local organizations will not work.

“We don’t have any money to give you,” Richards said.

Brenda Bulawa urged the school board to “return to basics” and stop charging kids and their parents an arm and a leg to be a part of the community.

However, South Tahoe High School athletic administrator Jack Stafford said a change in the fee schedule is “long overdue” and has been carefully considered for many months.

“Those (facilities) go through a lot of wear and tear and the upkeep has to be paid for,” Stafford said. “We are thinking these decisions through. It is an important decision and it does effect the kids. I wish we didn’t have to discuss these things at all.”

District administrators pledged to work with organizations in the community, including those that cannot pay. Representatives of organizations that may be affected by the plan should contact the district office for more information.