I was surprised how many heavy equipment vehicles are required to add a few parking spaces at Valley Forge Elementary School. Passing by the school on Walker Road, you couldn’t miss the mountain of dirt, storm water drainage system and assortment of backhoes and bulldozers. Increasing the size of the VFES parking lot is one of the school district’s summer facilities projects.
While I stopped to take a photo of the parking lot construction, I walked over to the infamous tennis courts. It was nice to see the tennis court door unlocked and available to use. It’s been years since I played tennis, but I couldn’t help but notice how pristine the courts looked – the playing surface well maintained, the lines recently painted and the net in great shape. VFES neighbor Don Detwiler has maintained the tennis courts for years – free of charge.
The VFES tennis courts are available through the summer for residents to use free of charge but the start of school in six weeks will also mark the start of user fees for local tennis players. At the District’s June 14 facilities meeting, discussion of usage fees ranged from a suggested $28K annual association charge to hourly fees of $15/hr. weekdays to $25/hr. weekends.
The rental of the courts for private lessons and tennis camps was established at the June facilities meeting at rate of $30/hr. for one court and $60/hr. for two courts with fees to start immediately. Signage is now on the tennis court fences reflecting those fees. To schedule the use of the courts for lesson or camp, there is a notice to call the District’s business office 8 AM – 4 PM, Monday – Friday. It is completely unclear to me how the District ‘polices’ the use of the courts by instructors — there’s no lock box and the door was ajar. Shouldn’t the details of how the process works be known to the public?
The usage fee for individuals to use the tennis courts will be determined at the August facilities comittee meeting and those fees will presumably begin with the start of school year in September. If the fee schedule for the use of the tennis courts for instruction is determined in the facilities committee meeting, I guess the facilities committee will also determine the usage fee for residents. It’s impossible for many people to go to the monthly facilities meetings as they are held on Friday at 2 PM. I would have expected the usage fees to be discussed at a regular school board meeting. In fact, because the usage fee was not previously discussed at the monthly school board meeting, I thought there was still an option not to charge residents a fee. But based on the signage on the fence, there’s no question that there will be a fee — only question remains as to how much it will cost the residents. Doesn’t it seem odd to anyone else that policy is determined in a committee meeting and then is sanctioned though the use of signage. Shouldn’t the tennis court usage and the fee schedule be available for public disucussion at a regular school board meeting?
I have several questions in regards to the VFES tennis courts — (1) what is the cost basis for determining the District fee schedule (remember, Mr. Detwiler has maintained the courts for free, for years); (2) what is the District’s process for collecting the user fees; (3) how much will the District’s collection process cost; (4) how will the tennis courts be policed; and (5) what is the estimated cost to police the courts.
If the TE School District is going to charge residents for the use of the tennis courts, why not charge them for the use of the school playground equipment on the weekends or for the use of the high school track?