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Bad news for Good News Club

Newhall School District, hurt by budget cuts, to begin charging for use of facilities

Posted: August 26, 2009 9:40 p.m.
Updated: August 27, 2009 4:30 a.m.

A local after-school group is worried about the club’s future, as budget cuts have forced Newhall School District to charge organizations for use of its rooms and fields.

“We have no place to meet,” said Elise Wilkinson, volunteer with the Good News Club. “It stinks on our end because we can’t go and meet at someone’s house.”

Superintendent Marc Winger said the fee is part of cost recovery due to ongoing budget cuts at the district. The district’s fees, issued for all 10 Newhall School District schools, go toward the custodial time needed to set up and clean up.

“We were scraping every dollar in every corner,” he said. “That time is money.”

About 20 K-6 kids are part of the Good News Club, a weekly after-school program where a handful of volunteers teach Bible verses, games and are given a snack, Wilkinson said.

Newhall’s club began meeting at Wiley Canyon Elementary School’s community room a year ago, she said.

The Good News Club was planning to start up again in September, but is unable to pay $300 a month for the room fees.

“Even if they were charging less, it probably wouldn’t help,” she said. “It’s really sad because it’s going to make it that there’s no after-school activities for these kids.”

With each application, the district has to look at what custodians are available at the 10 different school sites and whether the district would have to pay overtime for set up and clean up services, said Mike Clear, assistant superintendent of business.

Winger said the district asks the organizations if there is another place for them to meet.

If they are unable to find another location, the groups are charged based on the type of nonprofit organization they are and the services they request.

Public school districts are required to open facilities to community groups as part of the Civic Center Act, he said.

While the district has been charging for the use of facilities for many years, board members revised the policy and changed it in May, said Mike Clear, assistant superintendent of business.

Other districts like Saugus Union School District already charge groups that affiliated with the district for use of facilities.

“That fee is just to replace the portion of our costs,” said Bob Cutting, assistant superintendent of business services.



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