Wednesday, June 26, 2002


Two 861 schools just say no

by Cynthya Porter

District 861's new centralized facility scheduling program is encountering opposition from Rollingstone and Dakota elementaries, Community Education Director Margaret Schild told the school board Thursday.
According to Schild, the schools have objected to building use requirements outlined in the district's 1993 facility use policy which has recently been more strictly enforced through centralized facility scheduling.
The policy calls for private insurance coverage and fees for use for certain groups, as well as that all building use is scheduled through Robyn Kieffer, the district facility scheduler. A district facility committee is also weighing the current practice of handing out keys to users rather than having a district employee present in the building.
The Rollingstone site based team sent Schild a letter with a copy of their own current building use policies. Although they agreed to require a certificate of insurance from non-district groups, the team objected to the possibility of being forced to have a custodian or other district employee in the facility during use. They also asked to retain building scheduling functions independent of the district facility scheduler, and included in their facility policy the right to refuse building use rights at their discretion.
Similarly, two Dakota residents objected to any policy requiring supervision in the elementary school during after hours use, and Dakota Elementary staff have continued to provide their own scheduling services for the building rather than directing potential users toward the centralized scheduling department.
In a letter from David Albrecht, supervisor of the Dakota adult open gym program, he said users typically will give a "free-will offering" for building use, and that perhaps users could sign an insurance liability waiver rather than purchase insurance coverage for use.
When individual building staffs dictate their own policies, Schild said, it raises concerns over equity between buildings. Users who are required to purchase insurance or pay rental fees at some district buildings may want to schedule their use at the buildings that do not enforce those policies, but Rollingstone, she said, wants to reserve the right to hand-select who may use their school. "That makes me uncomfortable," she said.
Another prominent issue, Schild said, is whether the district's new insurance carrier will require the district to have an employee in a building during any use. Whether they will or won't allow unsupervised use, Schild advocated the supervision, citing high district vulnerability when keys for buildings are passed out to the public.
During her comments to the board, Schild acknowledged that Dakota and Rollingstone are in communities with fewer meeting area resources than Winona, but stressed that the district needed to enforce a uniform policy out of fairness to all and for the efficiency of the district.
Schild proposed that she could continue to work with the rural schools to develop guidelines specifically applicable to rural schools, but also closely aligned to district policies.
The board will revisit the issue at their July 18 board meeting, after representatives from the new insurance carrier have been consulted.

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