NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

June 14, 2013

Rental fees for school facilities may climb

Advisory committee will look at current policy

NEWBURYPORT — Non-school organizations looking to use school facilities may have to dig deeper into their pockets as school officials are looking to revamp its longstanding facility rental policy.

School Superintendent Dr. Marc Kerble recently announced his desire to form an ad-hoc committee over the summer to potentially revise and restructure the current policy. The committee would include representatives from the community, School Committee members and a custodian.

It’s a proposal that has the backing of School Committee members who, at its last meeting, expressed a desire to be part of any such committee.

“The whole goal is to realize revenue if possible,” School Committee member Daniel Koen said.

Kerble said it has been at least seven years and maybe as long as a decade since the district gave a hard look into its rental policy. Since that time, use of athletic fields, school auditoriums, gyms, classrooms and other facilities have increased substantially turning the current fee structure into a likely money loser for the schools.

“I feel we have to take a look at it because the impact on our custodians is enormous,” Kerble said.

Kerble added that fee increases could also add much needed revenue to the school department’s bottom line. Once formed, the ad-hoc committee would be charged with creating a marketing campaign to justify higher fees and looking at usage fees employed by other communities.

“The whole thing needs to be looked at,” Kerble said.

Currently, it costs non-local organizations $100 an hour to use any of the department’s fields. Local for-profit groups are charged $75 per hour while the fee for local non-profits is $50 per hour. Use of a school auditorium is $850 for non-local groups, local for-profits must pay $750 while the fee for local non-profits is $500. Use of a school gymnasium costs $50 an hour for local non-profits, $75 an hour for local for-profit groups and $100 for non-local groups.

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