Sea cadets will have to pay six times more than previously to march in the gym of Glenwood Elementary.
Needless to say, the youth group is looking for a new space, after the school board said it can’t continue to subsidize rents for outside groups as money needs to be protected for classroom use.
In the past, Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows School District No. 42 subsidized rentals for youth non-profit groups that paid only a nominal fee.
For classrooms, multi-purpose rooms, and libraries, the fee was $1/hour; for gyms and kitchens it was $5/hour.
These rental rates were lower than those in surrounding school districts and had not been reviewed since 2009.
“Although the school district has been able to subsidize community rentals of school district facilities in the past, continuing with such subsidies during a time of enrolment decline and a budget shortfall would be fiscally irresponsible,” said Irena Pochop, manager of communications for the school district.
“This past year alone, we have incurred a cost of nearly $110,000 in renting out school facilities to youth non-profit groups.” Pochop added.
“Unfortunately, we can no longer afford to absorb the majority of the costs associated with these rentals out of our budget.”
The Royal Canadian Legion Branch 88 sponsors all the local cadet corps and they have given some extra funds to tide the sea cadets over.
The legion cadet liaison, Peter Kane, said youth education is a priority for the organization.
“We are doing our best to support youth and we’d like to see more consideration from the school board, Kane said.
The sea cadets have been around for approximately seven years and range in age from 12 to 18-years-old. They meet once a week at the school for three hours.
Kane said that with funds dwindling, they have had to cut back on donations, but their support for youth has remained the same.
“[The legion] has not cut back on youth education and that’s the last thing we want to do,” Kane said, describing cadets as a healthy activity for youth.
Cadets learn valuable skills including delegation and responsibility, while good citizenship and leadership practices are at the core of the program’s goals.
School board chair Mike Murray defends the decision.
“As a board, we would prefer not to have to do this,” he said.
“But the reality is that our budget has been hit so hard with so many things over the last while, it’s a choice we have to make,” Murray elaborated.
“We always have to err on the side of our school program, and if we don’t generate additional revenues through increased rental fees, then we will need to impact other resources that influence our school and the learning environment involved, and that’s what we are concerned about.”
Murray added that the increase encourages groups to ensure they are not booking larger facilities than required.
“We have rented out multi-purpose rooms at a much lower cost, and depending on the activities of the group, and if they can be explanated into smaller facilities, it is a much more effective use of space, both for them and for us.”
The new rental rates were approved at the June 12 board meeting and go into effect on Jan. 1, 2014.
In the case of youth non-profit groups, the school district was careful to limit this rental increase to full cost recovery alone. The new rate for a small gym for youth non-profit is $33.75/hr.
“We will not be realizing a profit on facilities rentals for youth non-profits; we have only removed the subsidy that was in place,” said Pochop.
“The alternative would be to take the money out of classrooms, which we cannot do in good conscience.”
Murray invited this and other concerned groups to make a presentation to the board.
“Any delegation is more than welcome to send a letter or go through the secretary-treasurer office and ask for the opportunity to appear before the board, which is always an option,” the chair advised.
@ Copyright 2013