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School-Facility Use Back on Table

The Barrington School Committee agrees that a new facility-use policy could use another look.

Barrington’s policy on the use of school facilities by community organizations will be getting another look.

The School Committee -- minus two absent members -- agreed to forward the policy on to a subcommittee that may be assigned to peruse all school policies.

First-term School Committee member Paula Dominguez asked that the policy be assessed because she said: “There are some inconsistencies that concern me … which create a fairness issue.”

Dominguez said that the policy, which was revised before she was a board member, now has four categories of potential users of the auditoriums, cafeteria, classrooms and gymnasiums; the policy used to have three categories. 

The four categories are civic organizations that charge an admission fee or ask for a donation, civic groups that charge no admission and don’t ask for a donation, non-civic or commercial groups, and non-profits and Barrington businesses.

The size of the fees charged also was increased in the new policy, she said. Those fees now range from a low of $10 for a classroom to a high of $300 for an auditorium, cafeteria or gymnasium. 

Organizations also must provide a certificate of insurance and an indemnification agreement that absolves Barrington of any liability for injuries or death while the group uses the facility.

Some of the “approved language” of the policy also seems inconsistent to her, she said.

Dominguez actually asked that the new policy be tabled and the old policy be used until the new policy can be assessed. That didn't happen. 

School Committee member Kate Brody agreed that the appropriate way to proceed would be to assign the facility-use policy to a subcommittee. 

School Committee Chairman Robert Shea Jr. said there also has to be “some dialogue with the town” because it has an impact on revenues. 

Dominguez said the policy has an even bigger impact on the organizations that support the schools because of the size of the fees charged.

The Strategic Plan has a goal that cites the creation of more community participation and partnerships, she said. A facility-use policy that “seems to have some unfairness in it” is not a way to build partnerships.

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