PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – When it comes to sports or clubs, parents expect to pay a fee for uniforms or gear, but to pay for where to practice and meet?
Some parents think this significant fee could cost their kids a chance to participate.
Eyewitness News learned the Bensalem School District said it has no choice but to charge nonprofits for the use of district property that was once free.
That’s not sitting well with some parents and coaches.
For years, youth athletic teams and clubs in Bensalem have practiced and hosted in games inside of school district facilities, but the fate of such events are now in question.
“My kids have all come through the program,” said Eric Price, athletic director of Valley Athletic Association.
Historically 501C3 nonprofits have had hourly occupancy fees waived. It made it so they could use school district property for meetings or practices and it helped keep registration costs down for families, but last week that changed.
“If you’re a nonprofit and you try to use the school district facility, it’s going to affect you severely,” said Price.
Price is the president of the Bensalem Youth Wrestling and athletic director of Valley Athletic Association. He says charging for gym time means registration fees will double if not triple, perhaps shutting down some teams altogether.
“They’ve been meeting at the mall or at Neshaminy State Park,” said Bensalem parent Stacy Champion.
Champion’s daughter is a Girl Scout. Since this district decision, the troop has had to try and find new places to meet.
“It’s heartbreaking, it’s disgraceful that it took this long to put this out where the school year has already started,” said Champion.
“Factors prompting this work are the costs to maintain fields and indoor venues and fair and equitable utilization opportunities for all of our community partners,” said Superintendent Samuel Lee in a statement to Eyewitness News. “Unfortunately, the district’s financial position on longer supports our desire and history of renting our facilities at little or no cost.”
Parents argue that they pay taxes to the school and the school janitorial staff is already there through 11 p.m., so they are confused about the increased price tag for space.
The district added that programs are welcome to apply for fee reduction or waiver requests.
Parents hope to discuss the situation Wednesday night.