Gateway school board rejects lower school facility fees

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Gateway school board members last week voted down a resolution that would have decreased fees to rent district facilities.

The board increased the rental fees this year as a way to raise revenue for the district without hiking taxes.

To rent the Gateway High School auditorium, for example, organizations could pay up to $800 an hour. By comparison, the maximum amount the Mt. Lebanon School District charges for four hours of use of its high school auditorium is less than $1,700.

Two residents spoke against the fees during last month's school board meeting, and the River City Brass Band, which had performed in the Gateway High School auditorium for the past 27 years, changed its venue to Churchill's Beulah Presbyterian Church, citing a failure to come to an agreement on the rental rates.

School board member Bob Elms sponsored the resolution, which would have amended the fee to rent the auditorium to $300 an hour with additional fees if district employees such as janitors and parking attendants are needed.

Board member Skip Drumheller said in a phone interview that the $300 an hour rate would have "more than covered our costs and [given] us a little margin," but the resolution failed, 6-3, with Mr. Elms, Mr. Drumheller and Dan Nowak voting for it.

In other matters, the board voted unanimously to postpone the implementation of a resolution that would prevent administrators from holding supplemental contracts. The rule was supposed to go into effect Dec. 31 but will now go into effect June 30.

This rule has been a source of much debate in the district because it would prevent athletic director and high school football coach Terry Smith from continuing to hold both roles.

The board also approved an agreement with www.fieldhouse.com to create a Web-based store that would sell Gateway apparel via the district's website, www.gatewayk12.org.

District spokeswoman Cara Zanella said more than 500 items ranging from sweatshirts to keychains featuring Gateway logos will be available. The district will earn a commission on every item sold.

Ms. Zanella said the amount of revenue the district receives will be based on the number of purchases, but she said the Hempfield Area School District, which also has a contract with Fieldhouse, brings in about $500 per quarter.

"I don't expect it to break the bank, but we're looking for alternative ways to bring revenue in" without affecting taxpayers, she said.

Apparel featuring the Gateway athletic logos -- the "G" and the gator -- won't be available via the Fieldhouse site because athletic booster groups sell apparel featuring those logos for fundraising, and the district doesn't want to compete with those groups, Ms. Zanella said.

Additionally, the board voted unanimously to pay Bob Reger a stipend of $5,000 a month for performing the duties of superintendent for the past eight months. He will return to his role as assistant to the superintendent when Nina Zetty, formerly superintendent of the Peters Township School District, assumes the top job at Gateway this month.

education - neigh_east

Annie Siebert: asiebert@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1613. Twitter: @AnnieSiebert.


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