Board looks at facility fees

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Memorial, law enforcement, fire & rescue might get some breaks

By Tom Wilmoth

    The D-Day Memorial Foundation, law enforcement and fire and rescue departments will likely receive some sort of break from having to pay to use one of Bedford County’s schools for a function.
    During last Thursday’s School Board meeting, members discussed the facilities use policy and heard from a representative of the D-Day Memorial Foundation requesting an exemption to mirror its partnership with the city of Bedford, prior to reversion.
    As  part of the reversion agreement, Bedford County agreed   to   purchase  Bedford Elementary School, which resulted in the school having to follow the county-wide agreement on school facilities’ use.
    Martin Leamy, site facilitator manager at the Memorial, stated that the Foundation offers plenty of educational opportunities to Bedford County students, free of charge. He said that partnership should be taken into consideration.
    Prior to reversion, the city allowed the D-Day Memorial to use Bedford Elementary free of charge. Leamy went over a number of programs that the Memorial partners with the school system on, including the Victory Garden. He said though the Memorial incurs staff and materials costs, it doesn’t ask for funds from BCPS.
    The current agreement would allow for the Memorial Foundation, as well as law enforcement and fire and rescue groups to use facilities free of charge, except for having to pay to have a school employee present.
    The school system’s chief financial officer, Randy Hagler, presented options to the board on the facilities use charges. He said a survey of surrounding districts led to a few suggested changes in the current policy, which is applied to all rental agreements with the school system.
    That custodial charge for opening and closing the building, and monitoring it during use, is currently set at $30 per hour, but Hagler said that was one area that could be lowered. Board members directed Hagler to come up with the average cost of paying an employee time and a half per hour to serve in that role and using that as the baseline.
    Hagler will also look at what might be done to have a maximum cost for using a building or room.
    Funds generated from rental agreements are split between the school actually being used and the school system (30 percent for the school system, 70 percent for the school), which uses its portion to pay bills related to the rental costs.
    School Superintendent Dr. Douglas Schuch said the desire is to be friendly in the policy with the community. Discussion by board members suggested the inclusion of law enforcement and fire and rescue in such an arrangement with the D-Day Memorial. The board is expected to officially vote on any policy changes at its next meeting, set for January 16, 2014. That meeting will also serve as the board’s reorganizational meeting.
    District 2 board member Jason Johnson said some consideration of the charges should be looked at because schools are often “the center of the community.”