Stafford MSD new Board of Trustees divided on facility rental fees
By Karen Daniels
At last week’s school board meeting two agenda items concerning the summer youth programs and facility rental fees caused a 4 to 3 split in favor of, but not without some heated conversations on the matter. The District, after previously being asked by the Board to come up with ways to create revenue, proposed that the participation fees charged to youth programs for non-Stafford residents/students be increased from $15 per season to $30. Football, cheerleading, track and basketball will be effected. The increase is recommended due to the cost of maintaining the facilities.
The second agenda item which sparked extended discussion was over the revision to charge or waive rental fees for these programs. It was stated that SMSD’s estimated loss of income was $175,000 from student groups not paying according to the Board approved fee schedule. Dr. Hindt explained that if 70% of SMSD students participate in the programs, a number that is in the Cobra bylaws, rental fees will be waived. He said, “I have a problem when only 40 to 50 percent of Stafford students participate and use the facilities” and the District pays for kids from other areas to use the fields.
Board member Etienne Zak explained that the 70% number won’t work because there aren’t enough Stafford students to field all of the teams when there is so much competition with other youth organizations. Rodney Butler wanted this decision to be voted on after a committee is established and wait for their recommendations. Virginia Rosas voiced her desire for Stafford kids not to pay at all.
According to Jacqueline Jean-Baptiste, Executive Director of the Fort Bend Youth Football League and a volunteer with the Cobra Football League, the 70% participation rule is only in the Cobra’s bylaws, not in track’s or basketball’s, so she doesn’t feel they should have to adhere to this rule. She further explained that, “This bylaw was self imposed to protect the kids in our community” after the City of Stafford paid for permanent lights on Scanlin field. Last year the Cobra’s only reached 58%, but they are on their way to achieving 70% this year, however, she says that track and basketball will not reach this figure. “No other district charges the full rental fee. We want to keep the kids safe and keep them healthy.” Ms. Jean-Baptiste would like the Board of Trustees to reconsider this decision and put it back on the next available school board meeting’s agenda.
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