HCS facility use fees discussed in detail

HOOVER – Hoover City Schools continues the process of implementing a revised fee schedule for use of district facilities that could increase costs for holding summer camps at schools.

A policy was approved at the HCS Board of Education’s June 12 meeting and discussed at length during the July 11 meeting.

Hoover Superintendent of Education Kathy Murphy said the next step would likely be to meet with teachers and administrators about the changes.

“Our fee schedule is designed to cover costs for our school system,” Murphy said. “This is in no way designed to dampen the spirit of camps nor to lessen the camps in our school district or hamper our employees from being able to make additional revenue.

“I’m certainly prepared to bring those who are running the camps in our school district to the table with us. If there are additional concerns they still have, I think we walk through this process with them…help them understand that there has been a methodical, calculated, intentional process of fairness to the school district and to those who are running those camps.”

Though the facility use fee schedule would apply to all types of functions held at school property, Murphy said the changes would most affect summer camps, which are typically held by faculty and can financially benefit the teachers.

“They’re committing their time and energy, and we would be reminded those camps are being held for our students,” Murphy said.

Murphy said the new fee schedule is based on the cost to the school system for hosting events.

Fees paid will go to the respective school principals to be used at their discretion, so the changes are not meant to create a “fundraiser” for the central office, Murphy said.

The fee schedule has four tiers—for-profit, not-for-profit, parent/teacher organizations, and booster clubs—with each paying a different amount.

Camps fall under the for-profit category because there is personal gain involved for the school employees.

School officials studied costs related to facility use—including utilities, liability insurance, building supplies and custodial supplies—for a three-year period, and compared Hoover’s fees to nine other school systems, HCS Finance Director Michele McCay told the board.

“I would say we’re right in the middle,” McCay said. “We’re not the lowest, but we’re not the highest either.”

The fees for using athletic facilities was also compared to what the city of Hoover charges for similar facilities, and McCay and Chief School Financial Officer Tina Hancock said the HCS fees are lower than the city’s in most instances.

Board President Earl Cooper said he was pleased with how school officials handled the issue.

“Everybody in this room and everybody in this community should be very proud of the way Dr. Murphy and her staff are approaching the business of running the school system that is consistent, fair, open and transparent and in the interest of the children,” Cooper said.