Turf, facility usage fees will not increase for feeder sports programs

By Kari Williams

Mehlville School District feeder groups, such as the Mehlville Junior Panthers Football and Cheer Association, are exempt from the district’s increased facility usage fees.

The board voted 7-0 last week to approve increasing fees for gym and turf usage, except for organizations that feed into the district high schools. The feeder group rates will remain at the same rates the district has had for the groups since 2007.

Board member Mark Stoner said he would like to keep district feeder groups at those rates because he does not want to “penalize residents that have already paid for and are supporting the facilities.”

“I feel very strongly that our taxpayers have paid for these facilities once, and we’re going back to them to increase some of their fees,” Stoner said.

Bob Franey, Mehlville Junior Panthers Football and Cheer Association president, approached the board for consideration of a sliding scale when renting the field to groups comprised of Mehlville students or sports programs that feed into the district high schools.

Franey asked the board to help keep costs down so the junior panthers program “can continue to make it affordable for kids to participate in the sports program.”

“As our costs increase, we are forced to pass these costs on to our participant families and this has created a burden that has begun to impact the ability of some kids to participate in the program,” Franey told the board.

The Junior Panther program, a not-for-profit, represents roughly 150 sixth- through eighth-graders who attend various middle schools that feed “directly into Mehlville High School.” The program is “completely dependent on registration fees and fundraising efforts” of parents and friends, according to Franey.

Chief Financial Officer Noel Knobloch told the board the current rates for turf, gym and practice field usage were established in 2007 when the turf was installed, and the rates have not been increased in six years.

Knobloch said the district collects roughly $225,000 per year from the facility usage fees, of which about $25,000 to $30,000 are turf fees.

Fees before the July 26 board meeting were:

• Gym: Monday through Friday, $26 for the first two hours with $16 each additional hour.

• Gym: Saturday and Sunday, $132 for the first four hours with $24 each additional hour.

• Turf: Outside groups, Monday through Sunday, $415 for the first four hours, $100 each additional hour.

• Turf: Pre-approved District Feeder Groups, Monday through Friday after-school use only, $195 for the first two hours, $75 each additional hour.

Approved fees are:

• Gym, Monday through Friday, $30 for the first two hours, $15 each additional hour.

• Gym, Saturday and Sunday, $160 for the first four hours, $40 each additional hour for one location; $30 per each additional location requested. If additional employees are needed, additional fees will apply.

• Turf, outside groups, Monday through Sunday, $500 for the first four hours, $125 each additional hour.

The district does not charge civic groups for use of its facilities.

In other business, the board:

• Postponed selecting a board member for the performance/merit-pay study committee until the board retreat.

– Tentatively scheduled the board retreat for 8:30 a.m. Sept. 8 at Rogers Elementary for the board retreat.

• Named John Wolff, the district’s new director of communications, as custodian of records.

• Suggested the following topics of discussion for the board retreat: board member positions on committees formed per the memorandum of understanding with the Mehlville National Education Association, superintendent goals, and discussing with the director of communications how to communicate more effectively with each other and the community, among other topics.