Free use by community groups of Van Detta getting extra scrutiny by school district
A policy proposal submitted by Michael Bromley, Batavia City Schools athletic director, received some push back from Board of Education President Patrick Burk at Tuesday's school board meeting after Bromley said community organizations would be able to use the new Van Detta Stadium for free.
It's not that Burk opposes free use of school facilities, he said, but he claimed that to allow free use of Van Detta while groups must pay a fee at certain times to use other school facilities isn't fair.
Burk noted that the school district changed its policy some time ago based on state education law to charge a fee for use of facilities at times when school custodians are not on the premises.
Custodians are at school facilities from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Friday during the school year and until 3 p.m. on weekdays during the summer and on holiday breaks.
"People may think I don't want community groups using Van Detta Stadium but that's not the case," Burk said. "I think there is a double standard if they're allowed to use it for free if others are being charged a fee."
Burk runs a nonprofit dance studio that uses school facilities and must pay a fee. He said the Genesee Symphony Orchester and the Rotary Club, among others, were "forced out" of the school district buildings when the district started charging fees.
Roxanne Choate, chairwoman of the GSO board, confirmed in an email today that the GSO stopped using the high school auditorium because the fee for its use was $500 per concert. The rural districts, in contrast, she said, charge $150. The orchestra does not pay for use of the bandroom for rehearsals since those take place on weeknights during the school year.
Burk reiterated this morning that he isn't seeking a way for the district to collect fees for use of Van Detta. He would rather see no fees charged to any community organization based in Batavia that would like to use school facilities during non-school hours.
"To me, it's a matter of removing the stadium usage fees, then the building usage should fee should also be removed," Burk said.
The Batavian has sought clarity on any such state law from the State Department of Education and has not yet received a response.
The plan presented by Bromley, which was based on conversations with Chris Dailey when he was superintendent and Interim Superintendent Scott Bischoping contemplates three tiers of usage for the stadium.
Local groups, such as the Batavia Bulldawgs, could use it for free -- as they have been so far this year. Section V and the state athletic association would pay a fee sufficient to cover all staff costs for regional and statewide championships and other events. High schools from outside the county would also be able to request use of the facility for special events.
If community groups wanted to use the concession stand and benefit financially from concession sales, they would have to provide the staff and their own food and drink, in their own ice chests, for sale. For regional and state events, the school district would run the concessions with the proceeds going to school fundraisers.
The proposal is pending while district officials research what they can legally do regarding outside use of school facilities.
There should not be any effect, while the decision is pending, on planned events, including an anticipate Section V playoff game for Notre Dame on Oct. 26, nor a state championship tournament for eight-man football.