Tonawanda News

Local News

September 5, 2013

N-W facility fees anger groups

Tonawanda News — SANBORN — Are new fees for facility usage pricing community organizations out of Niagara-Wheatfield school district buildings?

Some community members believe the fees, designed to offset operating costs and salaries of workers who are responsible for cleaning up after events, are too much. They say the fees are forcing them to look elsewhere for places to hold meetings, practices and sporting events.

“They’ve never asked for a fee until this fall,” Laura Lloyd, a concerned community member, said. “The many groups using the schools didn’t know they’d be asked to pay to use the gym, the grounds in general. Everything is so nickel and dimed now.”

Currently, the district is enforcing a policy its had on the books for years. However, prior to last year when enforced by then-Interim Superintendent James Knowles, the fee schedule was not followed. Organizations, including the Niagara Wheatfield Amateur Athletics cheerleaders, Girl Scout troops and recreation volleyball players using Colonial Village Elementary’s gym one night per week, have been required to pay.

It’s caused some organizations, like the cheerleaders, to increase their membership fees. Others have been forced to find other locations that aren’t charging or stop meeting altogether.

Niagara-Wheatfield boss Lynn Marie Fusco said plans are in place to review the fee schedule policy soon, but wouldn’t suggest changes are in order.

“We’re going to take a look at the policy,” she said. “But I can’t guarantee we’ll change anything. It costs us money to have the facilities open. Previously, the last interim superintendent did an analysis and determined what the fees should be.”

Review of the policy, as well as many others in the district’s manual, will fall on a review committee of board members, which she’s hoping to have formed in the next few days.

One of the main functions of the board of education is to review and ensure all policies are up to date, Fusco said.

“It’s time for us to look at that policy manual,” Fusco said. “We need to make sure everything we do is up to the latest level. It’s very important, because we look at our policies in order to make decisions.”

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