Fees Don’t Cover Costs of Outside Groups for Yorktown Schools
By Sara Dunn
Outside groups that use the Yorktown School Buildings do not pay their fair-share of the operating expenses, according to the districts, Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Thomas Cole.
While the Yorktown Central School District is beginning to reap the cost benefits of capital improvements paid for through a $37 million voter-approved bond, district officials told the Board of Education at a Feb. 6 budget meeting that the use of school facilities by outside groups was costing the district more than the fees charged for doing so.
Cole told the board trustees the second biggest annual expense for the operations and maintenance of the district’s seven buildings, second to staff salaries, is the cost of oil to heat the schools. Oil costs close to $600,000 annually and electricity costs just over half of a million dollars annually.
The district has achieved energy efficiency by replacing Cold War-era boilers in the buildings, as well as replacing the ceilings and lights in some schools. As a result the district is paying less for these utilities during a time when the cost of the commodities is increasing on the open market, Cole told the board trustees. In addition, maintenance costs for the upkeep of the old boilers dropped precipitously with the installation of the new equipment, he said.
According to Cole, the investment the district made on its infrastructure “is paying off.”
However, while the completed upgrades – for instance, the automated lights at the district’s elementary schools –
are saving money, the cost of having those lights turned on after-hours by outside groups is not included in the fee they pay to use school facilities.
Cole told the board trustees that during the 2010-2011 school year, the district approved a total of 3,000 requests to use school facilities — whether it was the auditorium, the gymnasium, a classroom, or an athletic field — from more than 40 different groups, as well as the town’s and other entities’ summer camps.
Cole said groups are charged $45 per hour for the after-hours use of school facilities that goes to cover a large percentage of custodial over-time, but does not cover the expense of utilities, which is estimated to be $20 per hour for electricity and heat, maintenance and wear and tear. If a group uses facilities when the schools officially are open, there is no charge whatsoever.
Board of Education Vice President Karen Corrado said there were other costs associated with the use of school facilities by outside groups.
“Let’s remember what also goes into that,” Corrado said. “It’s all of the paperwork. It’s all of the insurance for these people … it’s also the set-up for the event. It’s also the breakdown of the event. That’s a lot of time and coordination that goes into this … to do that 3,000 times a year would be a bit overwhelming.”
Near the close of the meeting, Board of Education President Jackie Carbone said the school board trustees would be further discussing the impact of the use of school facilities by outside groups during the 2012-2013 budget drafting process.
Adam has worked in the local news industry for the past two decades in Westchester County and the broader Hudson Valley. Read more from Adam’s author bio here.