HAZARD—The Hazard Independent School Board met last week for its monthly meeting, during which the first reading of a proposed change to the facilities use policy for the district was unanimously approved.
Earlier this year, the Herald reported that Harold Brashear, Hazard High School’s girls’ basketball coach, brought up a concern to the board about the use of the district’s facilities by outside groups, specifically Memorial Gym. Since then, Superintendent Sandy Johnson has been working with the principals in the district to come up with an updated facilities use policy.
“I met with the principals … and we spent a lengthy time discussing this. We actually pulled other boards’ policies and looked at them,” Johnson said at the meeting.
Johnson said one of the main reasons this expanded and updated policy is necessary is due to liability on the district for anyone using the schools’ facilities that is not part of a school function.
Under the proposed policy, groups applying to use facilities fall under four priority categories: school groups, school-related groups, community interest groups, and meetings of the general public. Groups falling in the last two priority categories would be required to sign a release and indemnity agreement to release the district and board of any liability, Johnson said.
School groups, which include school science fairs, plays, and athletic events, would not be charged any fee for facility usage and would only need the approval of the principal in charge of said facility.
School-related groups include booster groups, scout groups, and parent-teacher organizations, could be charged custodial fees and would need the approval of the superintendent.
Community interest groups, such as church groups, homemakers, and historical societies, would also need superintendent approval and would be charged custodial and usage fees. Civic groups also fall under this category, however, they would only be charged custodial fees.
“Usually these civic clubs that use our facilities, they’re doing something to provide a scholarship for our students and we don’t want to discourage them from doing that,” Johnson explained.
The last priority group would be meetings of the general public or private parties; this includes birthday parties, reunions, and political parties. These groups would need to submit their requests to the board to be approved at the monthly meetings.
“These people come in a week before. So, now it will have to be on the board agenda for approval each month; they have to get this stuff planned early,” Johnson added.
Johnson said usage fees will be set at $30 per hour per area used and custodial fees would be $16 per hour.
“We called like the Perry County Public Library, City Hall, I think the judge’s office for the senior citizen’s building, the Pavilion, and so forth, to try to do something consistent cost-wise that other public places in the community are doing,” she explained.
One area, for example, would be the cafeteria, Johnson said.
“If they want to also use the gym then that’s another area that we’re having to provide utilities and so forth for use,” she said.
Johnson added that all groups charging an admission fee or selling something would have to provide their own liability insurance before using the facilities, unless it is a school activity.
“If it’s like an athletic camp that the money is being raised and deposited in the school activity fund, then that’s a school activity, but if it’s a camp that the coach is doing as a vacation fund, personal fundraising thing, no, they have to provide insurance to us,” she said.
The board voted to approve the first reading of the policy with the second reading scheduled for next month.