E20. Community Use of School Facilities

  • Policy Code: E20

    First Reading: October 17, 2016
    Second Reading: November 1, 2016
    Adopted: November 1, 2016

    While the primary purpose of the school facilities is to educate students within this district, the Essex Westford Educational Community Unified Union School District (EWECUUSD) recognizes that the facilities are a valuable community resource. Accordingly, the Superintendent may make school facilities available to individuals and community groups without discrimination in accordance with this policy, provided the facilities are preserved for regular school activities.

    Furthermore, the EWECUUSD is committed to partnerships with our towns’ recreation and parks departments and the existing before/after school and summer programs.

    As such, the District will maintain current program locations until a facility audit is conducted. If the audit finds that a change in program space is warranted, equitable space will be made available for these programs for at least the subsequent year.

    Recreation, after school, and summer programs will be given first priority in the use of school facilities.

    The Essex Skating Facility is part of the EWECUUSD. The District recognizes that many users have long-standing relationships with the facility and will continue to honor those relationships in scheduling ice time in a manner consistent with priorities set out in the policy and the supporting procedures as determined by the administration.

    In accordance with this policy, the Superintendent may deny an application for use of facilities or terminate an individual or group’s use for:

    1. Uses that are likely to cause a material and substantial disruption to school operations;
    2. Events and meetings promoting or sponsored by a political party;
    3. Political campaign events by someone running for office;
    4. Uses that interfere with school district maintenance and repair of facilities;
    5. Uses that could damage special equipment in the facilities;
    6. Uses that could reasonably be expected to or actually do give rise to a riot or public disturbance;
    7. Events or meetings of private for-profit entities;
    8. Events at which fees are charged for profit, except when the proceeds are to be used for educational or charitable purpose and/or the events are open to the public;
    9. Uses where alcoholic beverages are sold, distributed, consumed, promoted or possessed; and
    10. Uses prohibited by law.

    The Superintendent will develop criteria used to restrict any activity that may be in conflict with school or district educational priorities.

    The Superintendent shall set a fee schedule and shall administer it in a manner that does not discriminate based on viewpoint. All users shall be required to demonstrate adequate insurance coverage and shall agree to hold the district harmless from any and all liability resulting from their use of the facilities. All users shall be required to make clear in all announcements and publicity that their events and activities are not sponsored by the school district.

    The Superintendent may allow individuals and groups to use special equipment, such as audiovisual equipment, provided that the group uses an operator of the equipment who is approved by the Superintendent. A school cannot subsidize the use of its facilities for events and activities not directly related to its primary educational mission.

    This policy does not govern school-sponsored activities that are related to the curriculum, or student-run activities that are not related to the curriculum.A district has the legal right to preserve its facilities exclusively for the purpose of conducting its educational programs. It could do that by prohibiting all community use of its facilities. However, once a district allows any community use of its facilities, then it has created either a public forum or a limited public forum. A totally public forum is one where all uses are permitted on a first come first serve basis. A limited public forum is one where certain categories of use are allowed.