So much for communities in schools

From the “GCS Application for Community Use of School Facility”  Item #4… 

“Individuals/groups using facility must provide the Guilford County Schools with a copy of the certificate of insurance in the amount of $1,000,000.00 for the period of time the facilities will be used.  Individuals/groups must include worker’s compensation on the certificate of insurance for any non-Guilford County School employee they will have on the premises during the time requested.”

The Aycock Neighborhood has been using the auditorium and/or cafeteria at Aycock Middle for meetings and functions for 30+ years.  When I was recently contacted to help secure the auditorium for this year’s pot luck dinner, I was handed a four page application that enumerated terms, conditions, and fees to reserve the space for February 11th.  (The application must be turned in, with full payment, thirty days prior to the planned event.  Oh well.)

The total non-profit-scheduled fees under GCS’s five-year-old policy for using such a space for three hours will run us about $100.00.  Not such a big deal I suppose.  But the insurance policy requirement, as noted above, is just a bit onerous in my opinion.

I called GCS facility manager Allen Bailey to see if there was any way around it, and he said flatly, “No”.  He told me that if the fire that recently detroyed Eastern Guilford H.S. had been started while the place was in use by some community group, then GCS’s insurance on the building would not have paid a dime.  (I doubt that to be the case).  He then offered to give me a list of insurers that would write a one day liability/worker’s comp policy for an affordable price.

I spoke with an Aycock administrator this morning about some sort of waiver and was told that groups that have traditionally used school facilities – such as the Aycock PTA, Young Life, etc – are now being required to provide the above certificate of insurance.  Young Life, I was told, is no longer meeting at Aycock once a week because of the policy.

The cost is really not the issue here.  But no matter how affordable, all of the costs and hoops would be too much for most community groups to absorb.  The problem I have with this is the wall of school/community separation that such a policy erects.

The message I get from GCS is this: We want our schools to be integral to the community, but only if your insurance is adequate and up to date.

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6 Comments

  1. Posted January 31, 2007 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    I can’t really blame “the schools,” Hogg. We could kill all the lawyers, though. Just imagine what would happen if a nice Aycock neighbor fell on the spilled kool aid and broke a hip on school property.

  2. Mike K.
    Posted January 31, 2007 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    But still this seems a bit much when schools are realistically viewed as neighborhood and community facilities by most people.

  3. Sandy
    Posted January 31, 2007 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

    PTA’s are being asked to show proof of this insurance policy if they want to meet in the school building. I think the Guilford County Council of PTA’s has a policy to cover all the PTA’s in Guilford County but I’m not sure. I know our PTA has minimal money as it is and to have to spend it on an insurance policy so we can meet at the school to discuss ways to help our school is ridiculous.

  4. Posted January 31, 2007 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

    Sue,

    If such a fall happened, we would take the injured party to the hospital immediately. Then. Bedrest.

    Lawsuits are not a natural progression from every accident – thank God. I hate slanting every plan, every meeting, every move to bow to our ever-more-litigeous society.

    Your original suggestion is appealing to me in times like this.

  5. Brenda Bowers
    Posted January 31, 2007 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

    I would ask our esteemed Superintendent of Schools just what he believes our tax dollars are for if not to allow us to use the buildings WE PAY FOR.

  6. Steve
    Posted February 1, 2007 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

    A bond issue should clear it up……..