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Board discusses facility use

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    The use of school facilities by outside groups was discussed Thursday by the Bedford County School Board as a committee raised questions on several issues included in the current policy.

    Changes to the policy were approved by the board in September 2010 along with a request that they be brought back for review after the 2010-2011 school year.   A panel which included three principals and the chief financial officer reviewed the impact of the changes along with any concerns.  The following two items were concerns brought up by the panel:
    • The ability to grant a wavier for a long-term weekly “user” of the facility from the requirement for a school employee to be present; cost savings to the “user;” and
    • Use of facilities by outside groups while implementing a flex work week to save on utilities.  Current practice allows the facility charges to remain in the school accounts to be used for instructional related materials and programs. Utility charges are paid out of the central office budget without the revenue to offset the increasing cost on the utilities line item for operating during non-business hours.  Some of the usage has already been factored into the run-rate because of past experience,  however a sharp increase in usage could add additional stress to the utilities budget.
    CFO Randy Hagler said at least three churches use school facilities on a long-term contract. The board did not agree with the request that those groups be exempt from having a school employee present during the use.
    District 2 board member Dave Vaden suggested, because of a policy change which now closes all school facilities for two weeks at Christmas, that the policy also apply to use by outside groups. But District 4 board member Gary Hostutler said consistency is needed for use of facilities for groups such as churches.
    “That’s a good use of the facility,” Hostutler said of a church that uses Jefferson Forest’s auditorium.
    Hagler added that those groups pay fees to cover the costs of having the facility open. “I believe we’re charging enough to cover it,” he said of the expenses.