BY GABE LICHT
DELANO, MN Delano Public Schools’ Performing Arts Center opened recently with a number of performances.
During Monday’s Delano School Board work session, the discussion turned to how much the district should charge for use of the facility.
Delano Community Education Director Diane Johnson researched the fees charged by 10 area school districts ranging from Chanhassen in the east to Dassel-Cokato in the west. Facilities researched ranged in size from the 300-seat facility in Orono to the St. Michael-Albertville’s 1,450-seat facility.
Based on her research, Johnson made preliminary proposals for fees.
First of all, there would be no charge for school activities and groups, classified as category 1.
Category 2 would include nonprofit groups based in the district made up of 75 percent or more district residents for nonfundraising events. Johnson said this has historically been the most common group to inquire about renting school facilities in the past.
Delano’s proposed rate for category 2 users is $50 per hour or $250 per day. That hourly rate compared to an average rate of $62.83 per hour for nine of the other facilities, with most of them not having a daily rate.
Category 3 would include nonprofit groups made up of less than 75 percent district residents; nonprofits and faith-based organizations that use the facilities for fundraising activities, including offerings, admission, and entry fees; for-profit businesses located in the district using facilities for recreational or educational, and non-revenue-producing activities.
Johnson proposed category 3 fees to be $100 per hour or $500 per day. That compares to average hourly fees of $117.78 at nine other facilities.
Category 4 would include every other group.
Rates for that category would be $200 per hour or $1,000 per day, compared to the average of $182.78 per hour at nine other facilities.
There could also be fees for things such as an adult and/or student technician; custodial cleaning; the use of a sound board, light board, microphone(s), LCD projector, DVD player, risers, grand piano, studio piano, or orchestra pit; the use or removal of the acoustic shell; and/or pit cover removal.
Board member Carolyn Milano said she would like to see estimates for what would be generated from those fees based on the past use of other facilities.
Johnson said fees are expected to generate several thousands of dollars per year. She noted that staff members spend many hours managing those facilities, and she has asked them to track just how many hours.
Chris Rear, of ICS Consulting, will also consult with Wold Engineering representatives to try to collect data about costs of operating similar facilities at other districts.
Board members agreed that fees should be structured to cover all PAC-related expenses.
“We don’t want to put a burden on the budgeting process,” Lisa Seguin said. “At the end of the day, we want an understanding of year-over-year (expenses). We need to somehow keep track of that the best we can. We try to be transparent. We’re not doing it because we want to make a profit. We’re doing it to cover our operating expenses . . . It’s good to have data so they know we’re not charging an arm and a leg because others do.”
Superintendent Matt Schoen said the next steps would be to “get sharper data as much as we can, get numbers on the board, and continue to review them throughout the school year.” He hopes the fee structure can be simplified before moving forward.
A decision on the fee structure could come as early as the Monday, Dec. 17, meeting in the new media center at Delano High School.
Odds and ends
In other business, the board:
• learned that the general fund increased by $575,000, about $79,000 more than expected. Business Manager Mary Reeder also noted that a portion of $1 million in debt service funds that were not spent will be returned to district taxpayers.
• approved personnel matters, including the resignation of DHS math teacher Abigail Bohler and Tiger Activity Center Supervisor Karen Hoffman, and the 2018-2020 custodial contract.
• debriefed the recent listening session, during which many residents shared concerns about access to facilities. In the future, listening sessions will likely feature two topics, rather than three topics. The board plans to host listening sessions on a quarterly basis.
• heard from student school board representative Spencer Poll about Delano Intermediate School students’ concerns about lockdown drills. “It just seemed the delivery behind it was a bit poor, and seemed to be what scared students,” he said. Schoen responded that he had provided feedback to DIS administration that there was heightened concern so that adjustments can be made.
• accepted $48,769 in donations from 12 different entities.
• approved the first and only reads of Policy 201-Legal Status of the School Board and Policy 404-Employment Background checks due to nonsubstantive and legal reference changes.
• approved the first of two reads for Policy 104-School District Mission Statement, Policy 406-Public and Private Personnel Data, Policy 603-Curriculum Development, and Policy 616-School District System Accountability due to substantive and legal reference changes.
• approved a student trip to Germany.
• authorized the issuance of certificates of election to board members Corey Black, Mark Larson, and Seguin, and board member-elect Jennie Rosenow.