Canal Winchester recreation feels a pinch

Changes continue to ripple through the Canal Winchester community following the March failure of an operating levy for the school district, including a $14,500 bill for use of fields and facilities by the Canal Winchester Joint Recreational District (CWJRD).

Previously, Canal Winchester Local Schools did not charge non-profit organizations for use of buildings and fields. However, one of the methods adopted by the board of education for recouping costs following the multiple defeat of ballot issues and rising costs is to charge fees to groups not exempted by law. The policy change was enacted in December.

According to Canal Winchester Schools treasurer Joyce Boyer, a meeting was held with the CWJRD, superintendent, and athletic director to determine the yearly flat fee for use of school district facilities based

on the number of recreation participants. In a copy of administrative guidelines for facility use provided by Boyer, CWJRD is identified as a Class II organization and the fee is used to cover the cost of seed, aeration, dirt replacement, general maintenance, custodial services and utilities.

In October, school district Operations Director John Gifford reported, on average, the recreation district (CWJRD) uses school buildings 20 hours a week, 40 weeks a year, for a total of 3,200 hours.

Class I organizations such as scouts, school groups, booster clubs, village, local civic groups, and parent-teacher associations using district facilities during normal custodial staff hours are not charged a fee. However, if building space is needed at other times, additional costs for custodians or other classified staff are charged to the organization.

Religious groups, local businesses, dance studios, outside recreation groups, local sports travel teams, and local adult recreation groups pay fees based on facility use and range in cost from $22 per hour for a classroom to $600 per hour for night time use of the football field. Hourly staff fees on top of the facility charge are $25 to $45. All facility charges are doubled for Class IV organizations including outside business groups, outside dance groups, and for-profit groups.

The January 2008 edition of the CWJRD’s newsletter, The Sportscaster, outlined likely program cuts in the wake of facility charges by the school district, although it was noted the organization felt it was best to keep registration fees fairly constant and "cut certain areas of our programs that go beyond the basic recreational needs of the children instead."

Areas impacted by reductions include uniform costs, year-end awards, end-of-season parties, and limited fundraising. Only the youngest age groups will continue to receive awards for all participants, with others awarded for accomplishment; each sport will be allowed to have parties, but the cost must be carried by parents and coaches; and fundraising is now tied to specific capital improvements or expensive asset purchases.

"The average uniform cost has increased significantly," it was reported in The Sportscaster, "in the last several years for many of our sports. We are now purchasing uniforms whose quality is better than what our high school varsity teams wear. For recreational sports, we only need uniforms that meet basic needs, and not need ‘top of the line’ uniforms."

Attempts were made to contact representatives of the CWJRD, but they could not be reached for comment.

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