School district eyes volunteering waiver for nonprofits

The Medford School Board is considering allowing nonprofit groups that serve kids to avoid paying to use district facilities if volunteers clean bathrooms or weed schoolyards.

The board on Monday discussed allowing community groups, such as Kids Unlimited and the YMCA, to perform in-kind services for the district in exchange for paying the hourly fees the board is preparing to establish.

"I think the in-kind exchange is very important because it offers the opportunity for groups to keep as many kids in their programs as they can," board Chairwoman Paulie Brading said. "This has been a year-long discussion to reach a fee schedule. It's been difficult but we've found some creative solutions."

For-profit organizations and nonprofits that serve adults already must pay the fees, which range from $75 an hour to use North Medford High School's auditorium to $8 an hour to rent a district conference room.

"We based the fee structure on operating maintenance costs," said Mark Button, district facilities manager. "We're just trying to cover our costs with what it takes to operate and maintain facilities. We're not trying to make a profit."

The board has been preparing to extend the fees to nonprofit groups that serve kids — at a 50 percent discount rate — but now those organizations may be able to opt out of the fees entirely.

Board members discussed allowing the groups to waive their fees by performing enough hours of volunteer work, which could include custodial cleaning, painting and grounds maintenance.

Administrators are still discussing how much volunteer work would be worth per hour, Button said.

District officials would prefer that the volunteer work be completed during school vacation breaks or the summer months, according to board documents. Volunteers would have to coordinate their efforts two weeks in advance.

People also would have to fill out an application to volunteer and pass a criminal-history check.

Nonprofits that serve kids also could opt to donate materials to the district in exchange for credit toward the fees. The district would have to need the particular materials, which could include classroom supplies or sports equipment, in order to accept the exchange.

Lastly, the groups could allow the district to use their facilities, setting up a free use exchange, if approved by district officials.

No nonprofit leaders spoke at the board work session about the proposal, but district officials said the groups they have spoken with are in favor of the in-kind service exchange. District leaders met with Kids Unlimited, the YMCA, Rogue Valley Soccer Club and American Athletics Union on Aug. 18 and "all groups represented at the meeting were accepting to the concept of in-kind service as a method to manage facility usage fees," according to board documents.

The board is expected to vote on the fee proposal at its Sept. 19 meeting. If approved, the new fee structure and in-kind agreement could go into effect this fall.

Brading said she wants to make sure that the new fees don't end up being transferred to kids, if at all possible.

"These groups are very valuable and if these organizations shrink away, we lose a connection to the community," she said.

Reach reporter Hannah Guzik at 541-776-4459 or email

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