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Unless custodial overtime is required, groups can use school facilities for free

Published November 04. 2011 05:02PM

Community organizations who wish to utilize facilities in the Palmerton Area School District will not be charged unless custodial overtime is required.

That was the general consensus of the school board at a committee workshop on Wednesday, at which time it reopened discussion on Policy #707, Use of School Facilities.

The board agreed those organizations would not be charged a fee unless there is actual custodial overtime incurred during hours in which the district does not have regular coverage.

Tiffani Christman, president of the Palmerton Youth Wrestling Cheerleading Association, urged the board to "throw out proposed policy 707, and keep the current one."

"We all believe if there's a policy, it needs to be fair for all," Christman said. "The current policy is fine and fair [while] the proposed new policy is extremely subjective."

Further, Christman said "look at the current policy again, and see what's wrong with it, because there is really nothing wrong with it."

The committee also heard from representatives of the Palmerton Youth Basketball Association, as well as the S.S. Palmer/Parkside P.T.O.

Afterward, the committee recommended several revisions to the current policy, which is listed on the district's web site,

Among the revisions to the policy are as follows:

• Events held by recreation organizations and local civic and service organizations for which admission is charged will be considered as Category C2.

• A charge will be made for custodial services, including preparation and clean-up, at an hourly rate established by the school district and a fee for materials used. This charge will be the average wage of the custodial staff (including benefits) as established annually by the collective bargaining agreement between the district and the support staff. All groups are encouraged to hold their events at times when custodians are regularly present.

• Applications for the use of school facilities should be made to the office of district facilities at least 30 days - instead of 45 days - before the desired date on forms supplied by the school district and available on the district website. The district will make every attempt to accommodate, but cannot guarantee, requests submitted less than 30 days in advance.

Contacted this morning, Superintendent Carol Boyce told the TIMES NEWS every effort has been made to ensure the facilities are open to the students.

"We have done our very best given the staffing reductions to move staff around so that we can accommodate as much as we possibly can," Boyce said. "We have a pretty good working relationship with these groups."

The matter was also heavily debated at last month's workshop, when the issue of money to accommodate custodial overtime pay was discussed at great length.

At that time, Joseph Faenza, director of facilities, said there are 4.25 employees staffed at the junior/senior high who cover 55,000 square feet of space, which equates to about 36,470 square feet per person.

From March of 2010 through March of 2011, Faenza said the custodial staff, districtwide, had accumulated 235 1/2 hours of overtime for after school activities, sporting events, and meetings, in addition to having a custodian scheduled on weekends from 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. He said there are 202 hours of overtime scheduled, and added "we do not have the staff to slide somebody."

Faenza said at that time he has one custodian who works in the daytime, and three who work at night. He also noted at that time the district lost 29-percent of its custodial workforce when the board cut two full time and two part-time employees as part of this year's budget.

Also on Wednesday, the board heard a presentation from athletic director Andrew Remsing on recommendations for 2012-13.

Remsing told the board he's concerned that the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association has mandated that girls' soccer be moved to the fall sports season.

As a result, Remsing said he wasn't certain how the district would be able to field soccer and field hockey at the same time of year.

Remsing said a survey in which female athletes were asked which of three sports - girls' soccer, field hockey, or cross country - showed that 27 indicated they would play field hockey, 12 said they would play soccer, and seven said they would join cross country.

He said the biggest concern is the availability of fields for use.

Boyce said "this same issue has been raising its head since I've been here."

Director Susan Debski asked why the district doesn't offer girls' volleyball to its female athletes, and added "I know a lot of girls who would love to play volleyball."

Boyce suggested the situation be rectified by the spring.

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