BY JOE OLENICK
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — PENDLETON — If the Town of Pendleton wants to continue holding its summer recreation program at Starpoint, it’ll come with a price.
Board of Education members voted 8-0 Monday night to approve the summer recreation contract with Pendleton. According to the deal, the district will charge the town $1,500 for usage of school property. The approval comes after extensive discussion about charging organizations for that use Starpoint buildings and grounds for a duration
Superintendent C. Douglas Whelan said groups such as Pendleton or the YMCA will be charged for using school property for an extended period of time. Short-term users have nothing to fear.
“There’s no thought about charging for day-long meetings or Boy Scouts,” Whelan said.
Each year, Starpoint leases school property to Pendleton so the town can run the summer version of the recreation program. The lease agreement is a one-year deal that runs from January through December and is typically agreed upon every year in the fall.
Earlier this year, school officials said the summer program costs Starpoint about $6,000, but only $1,400 without labor costs. That total included energy costs for use of a cafeteria, gymnasium and the Starpoint pool.
The issue rose last year, with discussion centering around charging Pendleton to help offset costs for the school, but both sides agreed to a deal last year without any charge to the town.
The summer program runs for about six weeks, about six hours a day. Supervisor James Riester and Councilman Edward P. Harman told the Starpoint Board of Education last month that Pendleton would be fine with being charged, if everyone who uses school property was charged.
The Pendleton Town Board has not acted on the contract yet. They’ll meet again Jan. 8.
In other Starpoint news, district officials talked about the Newtown, Conn. shootings that took place Friday. Twenty-six people, 20 of them children, were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary.
Whelan said the district had a number of procedures in place, such as a Niagara County Sheriff’s deputy on location, the Raptor visitor management system and a series of drills the schools go through. Plans and protocols are reviewed and will be reviewed again at three faculty meetings each year.
“Be assured we are doing everything we can to ensure safety,” Whelan said.
A parent raised a concern about doors being unlocked after school hours. The parent was able to make it to the gym without being stopped. Whelan said safety concerns after school hours is being addressed. The district is also looking at a new computer system for school entrances.
But while Newtown went through a horrific event and safety is a paramount concern for schools, the district has to be aware to keep schools from turning into prisons, Board President Mark Ewart and Member Michael Zimmerman said.
“We’ll never truly understand what happened, there’s no rationale,” Ewart said. “....Living in fear is a huge mistake. But we’ll do our best to protect.”Contact reporter Joe Olenick at 439-9222, ext. 6241.