Rental fees for Gateway facilities drop
By Kyle Lawson
Published: Wednesday, June 19, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Lower rental fees for Gateway School District facilities now are more consistent with some other districts, after three arts groups took their shows elsewhere.
The school board recently reduced the rental rate for the high school auditorium from $800 to $250 per hour for businesses and non-profit groups based outside of the district.
There is no cost for community based non-profit groups such as Monroeville Parks and Recreation and Pitcairn Borough.
Depending on the event, outside groups could also be charged for amenities such as a theater manager, stage crew, sound engineer, parking attendant and security.
The school board voted to increase hourly rates for the auditorium last year to $800 per hour.
Prior to the increase, the River City Brass Band was paying $250 per performance, based on an informal agreement that was in place for at least 10 years, officials said.
The group moved two performances last year to Beulah Presbyterian Church in Penn Hills. Band Director James Gourlay said Monday that despite the lower rates, he does not plan to return to Gateway.
“I'm pleased to hear that the Gateway School Board has lowered their price for the rental of the high school hall, but it is still too expensive for us,” Gourlay said.
The Pittsburgh International Children's Theater moved performances last winter to Linton Middle School in Penn Hills. Spokeswoman Diana Roth said this week that the group will remain at Linton for at least the next four performances, from October through February 2014.
Gateway administrative coordinator Rica Cleary said the Larry Cervi School of Performing Arts relocated a June 1 recital to another school district. Recital coordinators could not be reached for comment.
The new rates will cover the operational costs of hosting events, which was the intent all along, said school board Vice President Jim Capell, who also is chairman of the buildings and grounds committee.
The fees were increased to $800 per hour based on estimates that later were found to be inaccurate, he said.
“The numbers that came in were out of line,” Capell said. “No one really knew they were out of line.”
He said it was never the intention of any school director to intentionally push away any group.
“That was never a discussion,” Capell said. “Every discussion we had was, ‘It's costing us a certain amount of money to have groups come in.'”
After Superintendent Nina Zetty was hired last September, she informed district officials that the rental fees were higher than other districts, Capell said.
North Allegheny charged $301 per hour this school year to use the auditorium, which included stage lights and sound.
A district stage manager and stage crew at North Allegheny would add $34 and $11 per hour, respectively.
In Mt. Lebanon, if less than 50 percent of the group's members were district residents, the cost was $1,661 for a four-hour rental and a stage crew.
Kyle Lawson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8755, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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