Martin, chair of the umbrella civic association's education
committee, said that he and Jack Wells, a frequent critic of
some of the school district's fiscal policies, have long
maintained that Brandywine has short-changed itself when it came
to making the pools available to outside organizations.
is the main item on the agenda for the council's July 11
meeting. The session will be held, beginning at 7 p.m. in the
community building in Brandywine Town Center.
Delaware, a private nonprofit organization of competitive
swimmers, for instance, has had a long-standing agreement to use
the pool at P.S. du Pont Intermediate School and was charged a
rate which did not cover the expense of keeping the pool open,
he said. The outside organization used the pool 59 hours a week
during the school year while the district used it 45 hours over
the course of the entire year, he added.
organization, he said, uses the pool at Concord High School
during the summer and is charged $3 an hour plus the cost of
having a custodian there. The city's recreation program uses the
P.S. one during the summer under a 'quid-pro-quo' agreement
which provides no direct income to the district.
setting a revised fee schedule for outside use of school
facilities earlier this year, the school district interpreted
state law as limiting it to seeking reimbursement from nonprofit
organizations only to cover the cost of heating and lighting the
interesting to note that under the same old law, Red Clay
[School District] charged $30 rental, plus charges for a pool
manager, custodian, and a life guard which they furnished,"
Martin said. That amounted to $68 an hour to use the pool at
McKean High School, an amount which he said about matched the
going rate in the Wilmington area. The Y.M.C.A. charges between
$70 and $90 an hour to groups, including private schools, for
Legislation enacted on the last day
of the General Assembly session under the co-sponsorship of
Brandywine Hundred Representative Greg Lavelle and billed at a
'clarification' of the law permits, but does not require, school
districts to set fees for use of facilities for other than
commercial purposes which recover identifiable costs. The
revised law eliminates a requirement that fee schedules have to
be approved by the state Department of Education.
Martin said he is uncertain whether
Brandywine will retain its present policy or increase its fees.
It could also decide to charge nothing, but he said he thinks
that unlikely in light of the district present financial system.
He and Wells, who lobbied for the new
law in both the Assembly and during drafting by DelDOE, have
proposed, with the civic council's support, that the Brandywine
board establish a committee to look at the pool situation before
acting and then establish a separate public-use policy for
pools. Existing policy covering use of other school facilities
"is probably okay," he said.
Part of the pool study, he added,
should include the issue of access, not only for organizations
but also the general public. "I know that two mornings a week,
the Arthritis Foundation uses Concord. Other than that, I knopw
of noopen swim time at [either] of the pools," he said.
That will become an even-stronger
issue when the pool at Claymont Intermediate School is
refurbished and reopened. That work is included in the
district's current school renovation and modernization program.
Years ago when the Claymont school was a high school, there was
some public swimming there.
Claymont will be the fourth pool in
the district -- the other is at Bush School -- which compares to
oen in both the Red Clay and Christina districts and none in the
Colonial district. A state aquatic center has long been planned
at Bellevue State Park but that project appears to be dormant.
Members of the public should be
required to pay at least a nominal costs-covering fee to use the
pools, he said.
Another consideration are safety and
liability issues, Martin said. Outside organizations furnish
their own lifeguards but there is no indemnification policy
specifically covering pool use, he added. A near drowning this
summer at P.S., may be a 'wake-up call' in that regard, he said.