The Salida School District offered the chance for community members to make their voices heard at an open meeting on Thursday, Feb. 6 regarding Facility policies and the recent implementation of a consistent facilities fee for all user groups. There have been complaints from some community recreational groups about the fee schedule implementation.
This meeting follows a January 14 Salida School Board Meeting, in which the Kesner Building board room was filled with athletes, parents, coaches, and adult sport participants who were concerned with the fee policies having impacts on their programs. User groups in attendance at the Open Meeting were primarily representatives from athletic programs; representing both adult sports and youth sports.
Superintendent David Blackburn and Facilities Manager Brandy Coscarella facilitated the conversation, looking for feedback from those in attendance on what they think the Salida School District should do with regard to fee policies.
The City of Salida’s Parks and Recreation Director Mike “Diesel” Post and City Administrator Drew Nelson were also in attendance on behalf of the City, as well as the most recent unveil of the Parks, Recreation, Open Space, and Trails (PROST) Master Plan.
“All I am really looking for is some ways we can do better, said Blackburn. “What it would be great to walk away with tonight is some of the frequently asked questions that I don’t yet have answers to.”
Blackburn handed out a FAQ sheet that identified some of the questions they had heard from the community in a Jan. 14 meeting, and some background information as to where the fee implementation came from. It revealed that “Following the Master Facilities Plan advising the district to increase the maintenance budget by $150,000 in 2018, the facility use committee evaluated fees and brought the recommendation to the Board.”
The FAQ sheet continues, “The pre-2019 fee structure was bringing in approximately $12,000 per year. The proposed structure adopted for July 2019 implementation was projected to bring in $25,000. The previous fees-in-lieu of portion was difficult to put a numeric value on, as was the length of the value, near impossible to track. The new structure established a clear way to calculate fees due.”
Blackburn asked those in attendance to take some time to fill out a questionnaire sheet provided at the beginning of the meeting, specifically asking what fee price the programs would feel comfortable in contributing towards facility fees. The questionnaire laid out the current priorities of the School District. The eleven questions are as followed:
- The district evaluates facility usage policies every five years. Does that practice seem reasonable to you? If not, what would you recommend?
- The district prioritizes student activities first for scheduling, then non-school youth activities, then community usage. Does that prioritization match your expectations? If not, what would you recommend?
- The district prioritizes issues like safety, student needs, academics, and staff needs over recreation needs. Does that seem reasonable to you? If not, what would you recommend?
- The district believes consistency in policy is critical to good policy. Does that meet your expectations, knowing that flexibility to address individual needs is sometimes the cost for consistency? If not, what would you recommend?
- The district provided two years of dialogue and roll out implementation prior to charging any new fees. The district then extended the full implementation to an additional three years. Does that seem reasonable to you? If not, what would you recommend?
- The district believes facility usage must be balanced with facility maintenance. Do you agree with that value statement, understanding the balance point between the two is a different question? If not, what would you recommend?
- What is the correct number for charging non-school youth activities to use the facilities? (See fee schedule)
- What is the correct number for charging community usage? (See fee schedule)
- The school district collects taxes; do you believe those taxes are collected to offer recreation to the community? A different way to ask the same question, How much school staff time should be devoted to managing recreation in our town?
- What do you believe the role of the city should be in managing recreation? Would you be willing to tax yourself for that expectation, or do you believe you have already been taxed enough to provide services?
- What other questions should we be asking, or you need an answer to?
The feedback from these questions will be compiled, along with feedback that has been sent to the Salida School District. The concerns will be addressed in the March 10 meeting for Board discussion and review.
Those looking for more information regarding the 2018 Master Facility Planning Process can visit the Salida School District’s homepage for more about the master facility planning process.
Cover Photo: Football Field Photo Courtesy of Salida School District