Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Voters in Wilson shouldn’t be too upset that the school district will be charging rental fees to use district property. It was, after all, something they essentially approved when they rejected the school budget a second time.
However, there’s been some hand-wringing now that the district has announced its fee schedule. The district had no choice; under a contingency budget, New York state requires its school districts to charge rental fees. It’s a way to recover funds.
While it’s true that district facilities are funded by taxes, the facilities are supposed to be used for teaching and learning. With so many additional services provided by the schools, most school districts and their voters have forgotten that. In some cases, taxpayers and businesses suffer from the extra services provided.
For example, some schools offer exercise rooms or gyms to the public. What does that say to the owner of a small gym a few blocks away from the school? Schools don’t rent out their kitchens for someone who wants to host a dinner party, so why should they open their gym facilities?
Taxpayers voted against the budget because they said the Wilson School District was spending too much money. Those same voters then asking the district to charge only a dollar to rent out school facilities isn’t logical because the district will lose money every time it opens its doors. It would negate the “no” vote registered by the public. And it blatantly skirts the meaning of the state law that requires that schools charge for use in the first place.
This is a glimpse of what it looks like when one has to get back to the basics.
This is what an austerity budget looks like. You can’t cut a grocery budget and then start hosting dinner parties.