The Coast News Group

Board talks performing arts center fees

RANCHO SANTA FE — When it came to setting a fee schedule for the usage by outsiders of its new Performing Arts Center, the Rancho Santa Fe School board seemed like nervous parents sending their daughter out on a first date.
“Do you think people are going to come and want to rent this thing?” asked Richard Burdge, newly elected board president.
“We’ve had a lot of interest,” Superintendent Lindy Delaney said.
Marti Ritto, who had just been sworn in as a new trustee along with Todd Frank, said the Miss America California Pageant had expressed an interest in renting the facility.
There have been dance schools and a few nonprofit organizations who wanted information about renting it for several hours, Delaney said.
Because a school is a public agency, the Civic Center Act requires the use of its facilities to be offered to the community for anything from politics to dance recitals. In the case of the school’s performing arts center, approval must come from the superintendent’s office.
Separate fees must be charged for nonprofit and for profit organizations.
To protect the school and the center, each organization that rents the center will be required first to have its own insurance and pay a deposit for cleaning and repair in case anything is damaged.
To determine fees for the center, Delaney said she considered what similar venues in the area were charging, which she included for the board at its Dec. 7 meeting.
Still, the idea of handing it over to strangers seemed an uncomfortable thought for some of the board.
“We know it will look used in the future, but right now it is beautiful,” said Jim Depolo, board member.
“Do you think the deposit is large enough?” asked Todd Frank of the $300 amount to be used for damage or cleaning.
“You can’t fix anything for $300,” Depolo said.
In the end, the board voted to increase the fees of the original proposal by Delaney.
Although the fees are not yet finalized, the board voted that nonprofit organizations should pay $800 for five hours of use and for profit organizations should pay $1,200.
This does not include the price of technical or custodial personnel needed for each event.
In other school board news, Delaney in her report discussed sending four staff members to Columbia University in February to a conference to help strengthen leadership in the school.
Depolo questioned the expense of a trip to New York.
“We have a budget and we are trying to spend it wisely,” he said.
Delaney said there had been $18,000 included in the budget for staff development, which includes trips to such conferences, and she felt the Columbia trip is important to the school.
“One of the programs we have been using for several years is the Columbia Model of reading and writing,” Delaney said in a later interview. “In the past, the Columbia program sends teachers to the (Rancho Santa Fe) school throughout the year.
This is the opportunity to send people to Columbia to work with other educators and leaders and bring back information and work with our teachers and staff.”
Also at the meeting, the elementary school student council was introduced to the board. They are Seamus O’Brien, fifth-grade governor; Izzy Enriquez, fifth-grade philanthropy commissioner; Grace Parker, fifth-grade environmental consultant; Millie Mabbutt, sixth-grade governor; Olivia Carter, sixth-grade commissioner; and Jayden Gillespie, sixth-grade environmental consultant.