School facility rental fees to increase

The Anoka-Hennepin School Board July 14 raised school facility rental rates for the first time since establishing them 13 years ago.

Until 2001, the district allowed the community to use facilities free of charge.

Budget crises around that time prompted the creation of the policy, Executive Director of Community and Governmental Relations Steve Kerr told the school board when the revised policy was presented for a first reading June 30.

The district isn’t trying to make money, but “because we have not adjusted that policy for so long, we are now running about a $15,000-$20,000 deficit on that,” Kerr said.

Personnel and utility costs have continued to rise, while fees have remained stagnant, he added.

Pricing is and has been higher for commercial groups. Civic organizations and nonprofits serving adults and religious organizations, as well as nonprofits serving youth or adults that charge fees themselves, are charged more than government organizations and civic organizations and nonprofits serving youth, such as 4-H, the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, etc.

Fees did not increase across the board.

Rates to rent rooms in the Staff Development Center increased substantially more than general facilities charges.

The district will begin collecting fees when groups use the boardroom and music classrooms.

The cost to use courts in middle and high school gyms increased between $.50 and $2 an hour, depending on organization type.

New hourly rates range from $6 for government organizations or civic organizations and nonprofits serving youth to occupy certain classrooms to $120 for commercial groups to rent the field house.

Overall, raises represent a 5 percent increase, Kerr said.

“It’s a relatively modest change in the rates,” Board Chairperson Tom Heidemann said June 30.

There were some minor language changes included in the revision, too.

The board approved the policy change as part of a consent agenda July 14.

Rates won’t increase immediately.

“We want to have ample time to communicate with all of the organizations that are impacted by the change so that they have time to work it into their planning, in particular the youth sports organizations …,” Kerr said.

The new fees will go into effect Sept. 1.

Olivia Koester is at [email protected]