Nonprofits could pay schools for facility use

The Medford School District has revived plans to charge nonprofit youth organizations for holding athletic activities on district properties.

District officials have summoned representatives from the youth organizations to discuss the facility fees at a meeting Friday. The organizations include Medford's Kids Unlimited, which provides after-school tutoring and activities and athletic programs to 1,200 children; Rogue Valley Soccer Club; the Rogue Valley Family YMCA; and Amateur Athletic Union basketball programs.

"We know if they fully implement the fees, it would hamper Kids Unlimited, YMCA and the scouts and almost make it unaffordable to provide services," said Tom Cole, director of Kids Unlimited.

Medford schools Superintendent Phil Long said a fee structure hasn't been decided yet, but a proposal will be developed and presented to the School Board June 7 after the district has had time to consider feedback it receives Friday from the youth organizations.

"Our primary mission is education," Long said. "These programs are part of our partnership to enhance opportunities for kids. We still need to recoup our costs and not pay the whole ticket on this (use of our facilities)."

The intent of the fees would be to cover the cost of electricity, building maintenance and staffing that are used when organizations hold events on school property. So far, the district has not charged youth organizations for those expenses.

Adult organizations and businesses, however, are charged from $8 to $40 per hour for the use of district property, depending on the facility. Last summer, district officials proposed charging youth organizations, as well. Back then, the proposed fee structure was $4 to $25 per hour, according to the facility. The proposal caused an outcry from the community at a public hearing last August. Some speakers said the fee could wipe out some organized sports because many families would be unable to afford any additional cost to participate in the programs.

"Our goal is to run a program as low cost for the participants as we can," said Kevin Primerano, coaching director for Rogue Valley Soccer Club. "Any increase in fees is going to impact our ability to do that."

The soccer club serves about 1,500 kids each year in competitive and recreational programs. It costs about $100 to participate in the recreational program and $150 to participate in the competitive program, which has a longer season than the recreational program, Primerano said.

The club provides nearly $10,000 in scholarships each year to kids who can't afford the participation costs.

The nearly year delay in assessing facility fees to youth organizations has given the district time to collect an extended record of the organizations' usage of facilities and resulting wear and tear, Long said. The district used a new computer system this school year that tracked hours of usage by each organization.

Some youth organizations provide maintenance and clean-up services at school properties. Long has said that those services could be accepted as in-kind payment for any fees. How that would work has not been hashed out yet.

After opening a new sports park, the city of Medford last year withdrew from a decades-old agreement with the school district in which the city maintained school grounds at nine campuses in exchange for city residents being able to use school fields and playgrounds as park areas when schools were not in session. The city's maintenance services were worth an estimated $125,000.

The city has shifted Reach reporter Paris Achen at 541-776-4459 or e-mail

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