Young Nova Scotians to Get Affordable Use of Schools
Young Nova Scotians will have more affordable access to schoolgyms and playing fields with an amendment to the Education Actintroduced in the legislature today, April 15. The amendment supports a new provincial policy on community useof schools. It will allow young people up to the age of 21 to usepublicly owned school facilities for physical and recreationactivities without rental fees. They will only pay for direct additional costs including extracustodial services if they don’t clean up, replacement of anysupplies or equipment that are used or damaged, or staff neededto supervise activities or open and close the school. “We worked with school boards and recreation partners on thispolicy to ensure fair and reasonably consistent access to ourschools for community groups and particularly for youth acrossthe province,” said Health Minister Angus MacIsaac, on behalf ofEducation Minister Jamie Muir. “Making our facilities moreavailable is one step we’re taking to help encourage morephysical activity among Nova Scotia’s young people.” The new policy is a Learning for Life commitment. It is intendedto make facilities available primarily for young people to havemore opportunities for physical activity. The policy also makes good use of schools as community resources.Community not-for-profit groups will have access to schoolfacilities at a nominal rental fee to cover school board costssuch as heat, electricity and supervision. School boards may charge commercial or for-profit organizations ahigher fee. Rental fees for these organizations should be in linewith rates charged for similar facilities in the area. Many municipalities have agreements with school boards for jointuse of school and municipal facilities. These agreements willcontinue. New joint-use agreements that do not increase costs toschool boards are encouraged and will be approved by theminister. All groups using school facilities must have their own liabilityinsurance. Staff and volunteers who work with children and youthin school facilities must have criminal and child abuse registrychecks. The Department of Education worked on the provincial policy withschool boards, the Office of Health Promotion and the schoolboards’ insurance provider. School boards received the draft policy in November 2003 and wereasked to begin adapting their own policies to match it. Boardswill track community use of their schools and report annually tothe department. The amendment will not apply to P3 schools. An arbitrator’sdecision in January 2003 determined that private developers of P3schools have the sole right to manage community access to theirbuildings.