Ongoing questions about youth athletic fields

Funding for youth athletic programs Valley-wide continues to raise concern, with the Kyrene School District lately having to confront parents anxious over the use of its facilities. A similar challenge was faced by the city of Tempe several weeks ago involving the use of local ballfields by Tempe South Little League.
Kyrene’s discussion with parents came to light after an Ahwatukee Foothills group raised questions regarding possible fee-structure changes for district-owned sites. A meeting between parents and district officials, held May 13 at district offices, was designed to resolve some of the basic issues and establish a framework for further discussion, according to District Spokeswoman Nancy Dudenhoefer.
Several days prior to the meeting, District Superintendent Dr. David Schauer sent an email to parents addressing what he felt were the major issues. Then, at the conclusion of the May 13 meeting, district officials and the parents selected Monday, May 20, for a follow-up session to delve into the matter further.
In the meantime, Schauer expressed the district’s concern for local youth organizations, saying their success is “in the best interest of the entire community.”
Also in an email, Schauer used a Q&A format to help clarify some of the worries expressed by parents.
Question — Is the Kyrene District raising fees for youth sports organizations and creating a new fee structure to rent facilities?
Answer — No. The current fees for youth sports organizations have been in place since 2007 and there are no plans to increase these fees or create a new structure.
Q. — Is Kyrene planning to further restrict community access to school campuses in the evenings and on weekends?
A. — At this time, there are no plans to change the access currently in place at each school location.
Q. — Why does the Kyrene School District charge groups to use facilities?
A. — The money that Kyrene receives to educate children is used to support the educational program of the district. Therefore, school districts are required to charge a reasonable fee to recover associated expenses, like electricity and cleaning, when the facilities are being used outside of the regular school day. It continues to be important for Kyrene to keep as many dollars as possible going into our classrooms to support the learning of the children in our community.
While Dudenhoefer notes that the bulk of questions have come from families in Ahwatukee Foothills neighborhoods, any decisions made by the Kyrene Governing Board would affect those on both sides of the freeway, including south Tempe and west Chandler.