Defined system needed for school property rentals

Published 12:03 am Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The St. John the Baptist Parish School Board does not have a policy in place that specifies a reduced rental fee for nonprofits seeking use of School District facilities or grounds as opposed to what is charged to for-profit enterprises.

During last week’s School Board meeting, district officials said $750 would normally be charged for a group seeking to rent LaPlace Elementary School’s multi-purpose area.

However, if the group was a nonprofit like a church, the District has given breaks in the past and charged a $500 deposit. When the event concluded, District officials figured the actual cost to the school and refunded the difference back to the nonprofit organization.

In approving a one-month lease this month of LaPlace Elementary to The Mission Church for weekend service use, School Board members agreed to a $1,000 charge said to be “more than enough to cover the cost” to the school.

District 2 School Board Member Albert Burl rightfully voted against the measure, indicating he had nothing against the church in question but was confused by the School Board’s seeming arbitrary basis in awarding specialized rates to nonprofit organizations.

Burl, along with District 8 School Board Member Russ Wise, said Board members would review their policy this month in hopes of establishing a uniform rate schedule for all entities to follow.

The demand for rental use will surely continue in our parish as the School District builds new, state-of-the-art schools sporting spacious gyms and multi-purpose cafetoriums.

The time is now to establish for-profit and nonprofit rates that take guesswork and favoritism out of the equation.