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Of the Keizertimes

Cathy Clark wants to make it easier for local organizations to use local school facilities.

The Keizer City Councilor brought up the topic during the Sept. 23 K-FEST ( Keizer Festivals and Events Team) meeting.

Clark referenced Salem-Keizer School District documents dealing with the rental of school facilities. The City of Salem and the school district put together agreements earlier this year. Clark is wanting to use those agreements as blueprints to see if Keizer should follow suit.

“Keizer doesn’t have anything like that,” Clark said. “We’re just researching. If we can find something that would be beneficial to the community and the schools, it will open dialogue. We need to make sure we know what is involved.”

According to Clark, the issue first came up with leaders of the Keizer Youth Basketball Association mentioned difficulties in being able to use school gymnasiums for youth basketball.

“We got frustrated,” Clark said. “They were being scheduled at 9:30 p.m. because there were so facilities. We want kids getting involved with youth sports. It improves health, mental health and leads to more success in school.”

Clark said wording in the school district’s documents gives priority to school events, with outside groups getting lower priority.

“Administrators have had a great deal of flexibility in scheduling facilities,” she said. “There are priorities that are required. It’s virtually impossible for an organization that wants to preplan to do so without wondering if they’ll be blacked out.”

In particular, Clark pointed to two portions of district rules from a 2004 document; one states district and school calendars “must be established before space allocations can be confirmed for any community use requests,” while the second part states agreements “will be kept pending until district and school calendars are established each fall.”

Clark said such policies lead groups to go elsewhere, especially when it comes to tournaments.

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