The district is developing a price list for rentals


NEW GAME IN TOWN — There is now a single price list for renting all types of facilities in the Conejo Valley Unified School District, including athletic fields, classrooms and performing arts centers. Acorn File Photo

Conejo Valley Unified executives say they have leveled the playing field when it comes to leasing district-owned sports fields, performing arts centers, classrooms and facilities.

The board of trustees voted unanimously on September 21 to adopt a standard fee schedule for the use of school property, removing decades-old ‘legacy rates’ previously enjoyed by some organizations and creating a structure uniform price in all areas.

Administrators spent 4.5 hours last week preparing details of the new guidelines, which take effect on November 1 and will impact 175 user groups, including baseball teams, tutoring programs and studios. of dance.

“Now it’s more objective. There is no special rate for this group and another rate for this group, ”said Chairman of the Board Bill Gorback. Glans. “It’s just more objective and fairer for everyone.

CVUSD attempted to standardize its pricing schedule in 2019 when it approved a 5% increase in rental fees.

But because of what Superintendent Mark McLaughlin at the time described as long-standing “handshake deals” predating the current district leadership that granted certain user groups special prizes, the 5% increase on paper represented in practice up to a 300% increase for some youth sports. groups that paid below the sticker price to use school facilities.

After outcry from parents and coaches in these leagues, CVUSD took a break from updating fees and formed an ad hoc committee to look into the issue and meet with user groups.

They also engaged the consulting firm School Services of California to conduct a review of the existing fee structure, district policies, and facility agreements. The company, which was paid $ 18,600, also compared CVUSD’s facility rental program to those of 10 Southern California school districts, including the Unified School Districts of Las Virgenes and Simi Valley.

SSC found that among these 10 districts, CVUSD was the only one to have a “inheritance rate” for long-time users renting outdoor facilities, a practice they found to be unfair.

Deputy Superintendent Victor Hayek told the Glans one of the main purposes of the fee update was not to put district staff in the position of deciding who pays for what.

“The fee schedule is the fee schedule for everyone,” he said.

Not everyone is happy with the new tariffs.

Gus Gougas, president of the Conejo Youth Flag Football Association, which has rented facilities from CVUSD for 50 years and uses the grounds of Redwood Middle School, said during public comments that his group’s rental rates have increased from $ 1 $ 200 in 2015 to $ 3,100 in 2019. This year, he said, the group is asked to pay $ 6,700, which includes weekend care fees.

“What was friendly and helpful turned into contentious and accusatory,” he said. “CVUSD increased our fees from 400% to 500%, then said take care of it. “

Fee increases aren’t the only change. The SSC also recommended that the CVUSD limit the time in advance when an application can be submitted.

There will be two rental cycles each year. In May, groups can book for July to December. In November, they will open reservations from January to June.

The consultant also recommended, among other things, that the district limit the number of times a user is allowed to miss or cancel a reservation; ensure that only district staff have the keys to access district facilities; bill for on-call time during normal working hours; specify that the hourly rate for fields is per field; create a minimum of two hours for rentals; and clearly define fee levels.

Groups will pay rental fees depending on their type of organization. The groups are divided into three levels:

At Level 1, school affiliated groups and community support organizations will pay nothing if they use the facilities for activities that promote student learning and development.

At Level 2, groups that benefit the welfare of students in the district, including nonprofit groups, public agencies, nonprofit youth recreational sports groups, and for-profit universities and colleges non-profit sponsoring or carrying out activities benefiting CVUSD, will pay the direct costs.

At level 3, all other groups, including commercial enterprises, will pay the fair rental value.

The new rates are expected to be posted on the district’s website by November 1.

To determine rental values, SSC calculated the average rental rates for the neighborhoods studied. The board has used it as a guide in determining the new rates. In some cases it has increased the fees, but in the case of some establishments, such as performing arts centers, it has lowered them.

Administrator Karen Sylvester questioned the wisdom of lowering the fair rental value of the three high school performing arts centers, but Hayek said lower prices could bring more community groups, even those in surrounding towns. , to consider the facilities.

“It’s not often that we struggle to cut costs, but there are situations where it could be an incentive to attract additional users,” said Hayek. “Just because they’re for-profit or under level 3 doesn’t mean there’s no benefit to the community, so to speak, so that can open that door. And if we get a flood of people and we’re overwhelmed, maybe we’ll make an adjustment for next year. If we take groups from Simi, Las Virgenes or Moorpark, we will also take their money.

Hayek said schools have priority to use the facilities and theaters will only be rented if the school administration agrees on the dates.

Also on September 21, the board of directors voted to reopen indoor facilities for rent to outdoor user groups as of November 1.

The practice had been suspended due to COVID-related public health restrictions, which forced some local youth sports organizations to cancel their fall / winter seasons.

Despite last week’s marathon discussion, Hayek told the Glans, work on the rental program is not complete.

“I feel like it’s not over and I don’t think it ever will be. This is a positive step forward for equity and access to district facilities for our community groups, ”he said. “I think it’s going to have to be looked at on an ongoing basis. ”

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