JERSEY SHORE - After hearing from community organizations about how a fee for using Jersey Shore Area School District property wouldn't allow them to operate, the Jersey Shore Area School Board voted Monday to suspend one of its policies.
The board unanimously approved a decision that would not require organizations, such as youth cheerleading and wrestling, to pay $50 a day to use district facilities. The board will revert back to its old policy that will require a smaller fee for use that will pay custodians or other services that the renting group may need.
The decision to revisit policy 707 came after the board's last meeting on Aug. 27 when it approved a move to lease a row of parking spots to a neighboring garage for $100 a month. After the decision, the board decided to look at its policy for community rental of facilities.
"I think that was a wise move (to revisit the policy)," said Burt Francis, a borough resident.
Dan Simmons, treasurer of the Jersey Shore Christian Volleyball League, said his league has rented the gyms at two schools for the past 20 years and wouldn't be able to continue to do so under the current policy.
"Our league cannot afford $50 a night per school," he said.
After some representatives from local Little Leagues spoke about how they maintain their fields and have donated equipment to the facilities, Richard Emery, superintendent, explained that they are not impacted by the policy. He said that Little Leagues in Nippenose and Salladasburg lease the fields and so they don't pay any other usage fees.
With the higher fees under policy 707, Nicole Bilbay, who is with a local cheerleading organization, said it has begun looking at other facilities to hold practices.
She explained that churches have been trying to accommodate the squads and give them a place to practice since it can not afford the fee.
"I'm struggling to find places for these girls," she said.
Bilbay said it was "ludicrous" to charge an "arm and a leg" for organizations that don't require anything but the room. She added that if the district continues to drive these organizations away, the population will continue to be overweight and not be active.
Todd More, whose children are on the swim team, said the team regularly pays for the use of the district's pool for meets but cannot pay for practice time. Although the swim team cannot lease the pool such as Little League does with its fields, he said parents are willing to help in anyway possible.
"Whatever it is, talk to us," he told the board.
Francis added that youth organizations teach valuable lessons, such as discipline.
Board member John Shireman told the public after their comments that even though the policy "looks good on paper," they now see how it created difficulties for the organizations.
"We did not realize the impact," he said.
The board will meet in October at a special work session to discuss the implementation of a new facility use policy. No meeting date or time was scheduled at the meeting.