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D-26 keeps cost to use facilities flat for next year

CARY – Groups that rent District 26 facilities won’t have to pay more, even though administrators proposed an increase in rental rates.

District administrators had proposed increases of either $10 or $5 per hour to rent out facilities. Both proposals received resistance from school board members, who decided to keep the Cary-based district’s rental rates the same for the next school year.

The current fee is $15 per hour, which was put in place in July 2013.

The previous fee was $10.50. District 26 has some of the lowest rates in the county and rental rates in the district are the same regardless of whether a group wants to rent a classroom or a gym.

Administrators raised concerns of needing to pay for the costs of rising utility expenses, the cost of plowing snow on the weekends, and the possible increase in costs because of the Affordable Care Act for its outside custodial services when that contract is negotiated next year.

Superintendent Brian Coleman said buildings need to be heated and operational regardless of which space is being rented.

“We’re the lowest in renting out to the public,” Coleman said. “Our philosophy is to provide school buildings for student activities. ... We want to continue to do that. The other side of that is we want to maintain our buildings, keep up with utility bills. Those, like anybody else’s bills, increase.”

The district estimated it spent about $20,000 extra this winter to plow snow on weekends to get the building open for Cary Basketball Association events. This estimate includes only the times the district plowed, and then had to plow again to be ready for school.

“This was a historically atypical winter,” said board member Chris Christensen.

However, last week board members opted to keep the rental rates flat.

School Board President Jason Larry said raising a rental fee, which would most likely be passed onto participants, can act as a deterrent to families signing up youngsters for activities.

Board member Jennifer Crick added that there is no definitive use that the extra revenue would have been earmarked for.

“If we’re looking for $6,000 worth of revenue, is it worth it?” Crick added. “And if that’s what we really need to do, then we should be seeking out other groups to come in, instead of gouging the groups that we already have.”

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