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Plum school board to take closer look at gym rental policy

| Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Plum School Director Shane McMasters wasn't happy when an outside basketball team got bumped from using a school gymnasium in favor of a district group that hadn't registered for the spot.

The incident that occurred about a year and a half ago has prompted McMasters to call for some give-and-take regarding the Plum School District's facilities usage policy.

“We have to be more flexible,” McMasters said during last week's facilities committee meeting.

The incident that angered McMasters occurred when the St. John the Baptist Catholic School in Plum was registered to use a school gym. Applications are to be filed at least 30 days prior to the desired date, according to the policy. The school each year pays a rental fee to use a district gym.

McMasters said a district group that hadn't registered for the date requested the gym to conduct a student-teacher charity volleyball game.

The district group was permitted to use the gym over the outside group, McMasters said.

The district policy states that in the event of a conflict between potential users, the school-affiliated organization gets precedence.

“We bumped them (St. John) for the teacher thing,” McMasters said.

McMasters said he realizes scheduling is a “nightmare” with the large number of requests the district receives for the use of gyms, auditoriums and other school facilities. He said, though, the situation with the basketball team should not occur again.

“We need to know well in advance and have registrations in,” McMasters said.

McMasters also recommended that group members be told that if they don't plan to use a facility for which they registered, they should contact the district so the facility can be made available to other groups.

“We should have a conversation with them,” McMasters said.

The discussion was prompted by the recent St. John request to use a gym on Tuesdays and Fridays from Oct. 15 through March 28. The Plum School Board is expected to vote on the request and a 3 percent fee increase that other groups also are paying during the 7 p.m. meeting on Sept. 24. The St. John fee is proposed at $2,320, a $68 increase from last year, according to facilities Supervisor Robert Holleran. The board also is expected to consider other facility usage requests.

Holleran said groups such as the St. John basketball team plan for an entire season when submitting facility requests.

Superintendent Timothy Glasspool said there have been few scheduling problems.

“We know where (there are) conflicts,” Glasspool said.

Board member Tom McGough credited Donna Jablonowski, administrative assistant in the facilities department who handles the scheduling, with making the process go smoothly.

“Donna has a good feel for this,” McGough said.

Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8753, or kzapf@tribweb.com.

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