FARMINGTON -- Davis School District officials are being criticized for a plan to increase fees for city recreation groups and others that use school facilities, such as gymnasiums.
On Monday, school leaders met with a half-dozen city leaders from Davis County to talk about the rental concerns to recreation departments.
The upshot of the meeting: the fee increase to cities slated to start this month for many youth programs is on hold for at least one year.
"This is all about kids. We want them to use our facilities," said Paul Waite, school district assistant superintendent for support services.
The Davis School system had sent a letter to city recreation departments in late summer, noting an increase of $5 per season per student for city-sponsored programs such as youth soccer and basketball.
Waite said they also changed the way the school rental program was structured, including a plan that more centralized the rental policies.
But several city recreation department leaders believed the increase and mid-year timing of the school plan were unfair and sent a joint letter to the school district in early October.
"As a group we feel that, with the implementation of the 'head tax' and the central reservation system, the formerly cooperative relationship between the district and local government agencies will become strained, at best," reads the letter.
A meeting was arranged to discuss the problem, said Clinton City Manager Dennis Cluff, whose city participated in the letter and the meeting.
"Part of the concern was utilizing the school auditoriums for other purposes, not just basketball," said Cluff.
After constituents complained about the proposal, State Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clinton, fired off an Oct. 28 letter to the school system.
"It is unfortunate that the administration and the school board have been so shortsighted to think they could pass this increase onto the backs of the Davis County tax payers," wrote Ray.
School officials countered that, like many in the state, it has struggled with financial stability as tax dollars and state funding disappeared during the last year of the recession.
"We've been fiscally responsible. But the use of our facilities should not be subsidized by taxpayers ... with money that was meant for schools," Waite said.
Yet Clinton assistant recreation director Ruth Collard believes the school district already charges too much to cities, which often trade services with schools.
"From our perspective, we were priced right out of the district," said Collard, whose city has already moved a recreation program to facilities in Weber County.
Collard and recreation department leaders said the Monday meeting was productive.
Waite said they plan to meet monthly with the cities to work out changes planned for the rental system.