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School board committee waives fees for facility use

May 26, 2009|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- A Washington County Board of Education committee voted Tuesday to waive fees for two groups that used Washington County Public Schools facilities.

The committee excused the Hagerstown Police Athletic League wrestling team from $495 in costs incurred during a fundraising event April 5. The committee also waived $200 in fees owed by St. Maria Goretti High School for using the North Hagerstown High School track earlier this year when their own facility was unusable.

Board member Donna Brightman said she had concerns that the committee's decision to waive fees for certain groups or certain events could appear "arbitrary" and open the board up to criticism.

"I'm uncomfortable," she said.

Brightman recommended that the committee discuss a policy with set criteria that would govern future requests to waive facility fees.

The Police Athletic League used North Hagerstown High School's gymnasium for a fundraising event for a Williamsport High School student battling cancer, according to documents distributed to board members Tuesday. The student's father is a longtime member of the association and a football coach at North High.

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Brightman said she agreed that fees should be waived for that fundraiser, but said she had concerns about the request from St. Maria Goretti.

"Weren't we supposed to be using North High as a moneymaker?" Brightman said. "Why would we give a waiver if we're trying to make money on it?"

Deputy Superintendent Boyd Michael said the school system never saw the facility as a moneymaker.

Board Member Paul W. Bailey said waiving the fees for St. Maria Goretti was a sort of "good-neighbor policy."

"They need something, we try to help them," he said. "They've helped us on occasion."

Brightman said it made sense for the committee to begin approving or denying fee waiver requests before school system property is used.

"We can't just continue to do this forever," said board member William H. Staley.

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