UNION CITY, Calif. — New Haven Unified School District is revamping its fee structure for facility rentals, tailoring charges to user category and venue. This has raised concerns among some community groups who want to ensure that the district adopts reasonable criteria to attain legacy group status for existing partners, thereby securing reduced fees.
During a public hearing held on Thursday, Oct. 19, Annette Heldman, the district’s assistant superintendent of business, explained that longtime district partners serving local students can receive reduced fees when renting district facilities like classrooms, parking lots and multipurpose rooms. District Superintendent John Thompson emphasized that interested groups will have a one-time, three-week window after the Board of Education approves the new fees and policies to submit their applications for legacy status.
“You will get a notice,” Thompson said, “anybody who is one of the heads of these organizations. We’ll send it out right away, and we’ll work with you to try, if you think you qualify for legacy status, to (submit an application).”
Any group granted legacy status would be expected to enter into a memorandum of understanding with the district, covering the terms for their facilities rentals. Those agreements would need to be approved separately by the board.
The criteria for attaining legacy status, presented on Thursday, are straightforward: groups must possess nonprofit status, have at least a 30-year history of collaboration with the district, and ensure that a minimum of 70% of their participants originate from within the district’s attendance areas or Union City.
Various community groups and community-based youth programs showed up to the meeting to ask the district to reconsider the 70% figure because it could force groups like the Union City Dirtbags, Union City American Little League and Mission Valley Track and Field Club, which serve the broader community, to turn people away.
Lee Webb, head coach and president of Mission Valley and former longtime head coach of the James Logan High School cross country and track and field teams, highlighted the unique role of Mission Valley in the area. The club, in existence for 42 years, previously had no issue meeting the 70% requirement when it exclusively served high school students.
“But then we opened it up to students that were younger,” Webb said. That attracted a lot of people from surrounding communities like Newark and Fremont because there aren’t other programs like Mission Valley in the area.
The new structure divides users into four categories with corresponding fee ranges:
— Group 1, encompassing school and support groups, won’t incur fees unless custodial services are requested. It includes parent-teacher associations, booster clubs and not-for-profit youth organizations like Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts.
— Group 2, comprising community-based youth sports leagues with nominal participation fees, are set to pay slightly less than their current rates, dropping from $7.50 to $60 per hour to between $6 to $48 per hour based on the facility.
— Group 3 includes various civic, service and public affairs groups, along with senior citizen and veterans’ groups, which are set to be charged the current rate for community groups affiliated with the district, from $7.50 to $60 per hour.
— Group 4 includes private or commercial groups that generate revenue not intended to be used toward the district’s students or charitable purposes. Charges range from $20 to $200 per hour for this group.
Groups 2 through 4 are expected to pay a $25 non-refundable application fee.
Superintendent Thompson said he heard their concerns and district staff will revisit the 70% requirement, among other things, before presenting the final draft to the board for approval at its next meeting on Nov. 14.
“One of our goals is to try to create something that’s fair and consistent,” Thompson said. ” … And also to streamline things and make it easier for all of you to use our facilities.”
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Sonia Waraich can be reached at 510-952-7455.