Escanaba schools look at rental rates

ESCANABA — The Escanaba School Board discussed potentially making changes to rental rates for school district facilities during a meeting Monday.

Under the school district’s current rental rates — rates that were set in 1975 — it costs Class I organizations $27 to rent out the senior high gymnasium and showers for an hour. Class I groups are sponsored by or affiliated with the school district, as well as other organized groups in the school district dedicated to community interest or child welfare. If this were adjusted to account for inflation, it would cost $122 for Class I groups to rent this space for the same amount of time.

For Class II organizations (commercial ventures and private parties), it currently costs $45 per hour to rent out the senior high gymnasium and showers. It would cost $200 an hour for Class II organizations to rent out the space if rates were adjusted for inflation.

Vice-President Bob Chaillier spoke about eliminating the class system for rentals.

“I found it to be possibly a headache for whoever’s in charge of figuring out ‘who’s going to be Class I, who’s going to be Class II?’ Why not just have one class and go with that?,” he said.

Chaillier said the school district could save time and money by enforcing its existing policy requiring a custodian to be present for facilities to be rented out.

“What I’m proposing with these rates is we no longer rent our facilities if we don’t have an Accent employee working a shift — meaning if there isn’t a janitor in there, our facilities are not rented,” he said. This would not apply to Escanaba’s high school sports teams.

Trustee Kathy Jensen said she agreed with Chaillier’s statements regarding custodians. However, she felt the class system should stay in place to help support Class I groups.

“I think that those groups should get a break on the rental rates,” she said.

According to Chaillier, he only wanted to get the key points of his proposal out for discussion and did not need a decision from the board at this time.

“Run it over in your head, come up with some ideas, jot them down and at the next board meeting, we can discuss it in more depth,” he said.

In other business, the committee:

– continued a discussion on whether the school district’s crossing guards should be employed by the school district or Escanaba Public Safety. No official decisions on the topic were made during Monday’s meeting. Superintendent Coby Fletcher said the board received an opinion from its legal team last month stating the school district does not have the authority to hire employees to stop and direct traffic. “That, in my mind, makes it pretty clear,” he said. The board is set to vote on the matter during its next meeting on March 18.

– discussed its second budget amendment of the school year for the general fund and food service fund. For the general fund, total revenues increased from the $23,476,162 listed in the original budget by $284,162 to $23,760,324; total appropriated expenditures grew from the $23,614,782 in the original budget by $157,682 to $23,772,464. In the amendment to the food service fund, revenues decreased from the $1,416,072 listed originally by $51,110 to $1,364,962; total appropriated expenditures decreased from the $1,389,767 listed originally by $45,382 to $1,344,385.

– entered executive session to discuss a tentative contract agreement with the Teamsters. No official decisions related to the tentative agreement were made after the committee left executive session.

– approved the hiring of Gary Salo as a varsity softball coach.

– discussed the school district’s application for a Michigan State Police grant. Fletcher said the school district has applied for $113,000 in grant funding for a new camera system, and that he will know whether or not this application was successful by April 1.