New fees frozen for community use of school facilities

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The Blaine school board voted to suspend the implementation of new fees charged to community and outside groups that use district gyms, fields and other facilities.

The board unanimously passed an update to its facilities use policy, including a new fee schedule, at its July 29 meeting after discussing it at several meetings starting in February. The fees vary depending on a variety of factors, including how directly the use impacts kids in the community.

In the month after updating the policy, the district heard concerns from groups that said the policy would increase their costs, former superintendent Ron Spanjer said at an August 26 board meeting.

Four people signed up to speak to the board about the issue at that meeting. They represented several Blaine youth sports leagues and the Blaine Community Theater, and they all spoke about how the higher rental fees would affect their organizations.

Kevin Reid, vice president of Blaine Youth Basketball, told the board the new fee schedule would roughly double what his organization pays to rent gym space.

“The problem I have is that this is going to price a lot of families out,” he said.

After hearing from the public, the school board voted unanimously to suspend the new fee schedule. It’s forming a task force that includes various user groups to analyze the issue and report findings to the superintendent by October 15.

According to meeting documents, the superintendent will then bring the school board a recommendation to modify the policy at the board’s October 28 meeting.

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