Pattye Benson

Community Matters

TE Facilities meeting to discuss user fees for VFES tennis courts changed to August 22

According to the TE School District website, the Facilities Comittee meeting has been rescheduled. Typically, the meeting is held the second Friday of the month at 2 PM, which would have been August 9. However, the meeting has been rescheduled for Thursday, August 22 at 7 PM. The agenda for the meeting is the Valley Forge Elementary School tennis courts.

Although residents have enjoyed the use of the VFES tennis courts for free of charge this summer, usage fees are expected to begin in September with the start of school. At the last Facilities Committee meeting on June 14, the discussion of usage fees ranged from hourly fees of $15/hr weekdays – $25/hr weekends to an annual association charge of $28K. The usage fees for private lessons and tennis camps was established at the June Facilities Commitee meeting and signage on the courts reflects those fees — $30/hr for one court and $60/hr for two courts. It was my understanding that the private lesson/tennis camp user fees were to start immediately.

These are some of my questions that I would like answered on August 22:

  1. What is the cost basis for the District fee schedule for the tennis courts?
  2. What is the process for collecction of the user fees?
  3. What is the cost of the District’s collection process?
  4. What is the process for reserving the tennis courts?
  5. How will the tennis court usage be policed?
  6. What is the estimated cost to police the the courts?
  7. What is the annual maintenance cost of the courts?
  8. What is the anticipated District revenue from the user fees?
  9. Is use of the tennis courts prioritized, i.e. are residents given priority use over tennis pros using the courts for lessons?
  10. If so, how is the prioritze determined?
  11. As a result of user fees for the tennis courts, does the District plan to charge for the use of CHS track, school playgrounds, outdoor basketball courts, etc.?

Previously, someone comment on Community Matters that Teamer Field had generated $400 in user fees as of March 2013 — it looks like the District is anticipating greater revenue from the tennis courts. We should expect that the District will present the cost analysis to maintain the tennis courts and the associated costs to collect the fees and police the courts. It will be interesting to see how the District arrives at the annual maintenance costs for the tennis courts, given that VFES neighbor Don Detwiler has done that job free-of-charge for years.

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  1. It would be refreshing if they actually presented a cost analysis. I wouldn’t hold your breath though. You’ll be fortunate if you get your questions answered.

    Also, how many comparisons to other townships or school districts were made in determining a fee schedule for the tennis courts? And who turns down continued free maintenance? I will never understand that move.

  2. Thanks, Patty for the thorough questions that need to be answered. # 11 is one that would not have come to mind, but is spot on!

  3. This is a school district. If they spend one more minute even caring about these tennis courts, they are wasting time. Your questions may matter to you, but the answers are well outside the mission of public education.

  4. Physical Education is an important part of EVERY child’s education and is by no means outside of the mission of public education. Having the facilities for children to be active and have fun should be a necessity for EVERY school district.

    1. There is ZERO physical education in this topic. These are COMMUNITY tennis courts that Thhe township lost interest in

      1. I agree. then why not just let community volunteers run the courts like they have for years? why demolish them? Why make an issue out of it by threateneing to demolish them for no good reason? This is another way to take focus off the true issue.

  5. I think it would be an interesting fact to know of all the people pushing to keep the tennis courts, how many of them have actually use them regularly, or simply like the idea of them being there in case once or twice they decide to. And as far as physical education being important in every child’s education, I would absolutely agree, however our four children who went to/are going to that school have not used them, so I am not sure there is any direct correlation to these courts being a critical part of the child’s/student’s physical education. I don’t necessarily agree with the amount of the fees, but I also don’t think the school should have to support this on there own if it is taking away from more impactful use of funding.

    1. I don’t think you can make the correlation that because your children don’t use the tennis courts, other children don’t use them either, so to question whether they are part of shild’s/student’s physical education, when you said yourself, you don’t even know who uses them, is hard because we don’t have enough data to discuss meaningful analysis on that point.

      They have been maintained for free for years by one good neighborly citizen. Other citizens have offered their time and ideas for keeping them in the community at minimal cost. This is really not that big a deal.

      We, as citizens, tax payers, and parents of children in this school district should spend as much time discussing the $200,000 spent the first quarter of this year alone on architectural fees, hourly rate increases for School District solicitor Ken Roos and all of his assistants and the pay increases and bonuses for administrators who already make governor like salaries.

      These are the very people who make these decisions to nix winter rec programs, demolish tennis courts, cut school programs, increase class sizes, outsource aides and paras without the decency or good business practice to vet the outsourcing company, and attach activity fees to Extra curricular activities.

      Giving back raises and bonuses rubber stamped by the board in a consent agenda, nixing rate increases for the school solicitor and all his assistants, getting rid of the architectural firm (we can’t afford teachers and we have an architectural firm?) would be a good start in doing the right thing and reallocating these funds to areas that truly support what this should be about……..the children.

      1. My correlation was simply that use of the tennis courts, to the best of my knowledge, is not part of the school PE curriculum.

  6. There is a fine line dividing physical education from extracurricular activities from recreational activities. Each of these segments encourages students to be active and that’s positive. A problem is encountered when deciding who pays and how much.
    Physical education is mandated by the state and must be funded by the district.
    Extracurricular activities are not mandatory but studies have shown their educational value. The cost has historically been fully borne by the district. When an activity is financed by someone else, the demand increases. UCF has around 70 EC activities costing the district about $800K. Parents are great advocates for their children and there is no end to requests for additional activities and additional funding for existing activities. Educational dollars are scarce and our board has made a conscious effort to raise activity fees.
    Recreational activities, in my opinion, are the responsibility of local governments, private organizations (e.g. Little League) and recreational authorities.

  7. These courts are NOT part of the physical education program at Valley Forge Elementary. The fact they are nearby is purely coincidental. Should the district build them everywhere?, Let’s resurrect the POOL mandate from the 90s…hundreds turned out for that. Lost interest and then the sleeping public watched a multi-million dollar renovation/upgrade to Teamer Field….locker rooms and everything. . There is no tennis program for elementary students. I went to Valley Forge the year it opened…even in the Good Old Days, tennis was not part of the curriculum. My parents signed me up,to take tennis lessons at the tennis courts adjacent to the now Tredyffrin Library in the early 60s. Township courts. seriously friends…can we please move on?

      1. Thank-you for clarifying. As far as the “school supporting them on their own”, to date there has been no cost because a good neighbor has volunteered to take care of the maintenance entirely on his own and others have stepped forward to continue this by offering their services for the future.

    1. they did a great job on teamer. As purely self interest, my daughter and then my son benefitted from that facility many times over. And so did their parents who spent many a day/night enjoying a bit of norman rockwell during their time their. Friday night high school football in a nice facility… great stuff.. And the band that plays halftime benefitted from a re outfitted band/music facility in the school.. tennis anyone?

  8. What I don’t like is how the School Board tries to do things in a quiet way so that parents and taxpayers are not alerted until the program is already cut. The winter rec basketball was such a low-cost program and it benefitted the youth of our District in a big way. I know many parents who would have volunteered to spend a Saturday supervising the Winter Rec basketball if the District was too cheap to pay the $10 an hour for a teacher to sit there. When you take recreational opportunities away from kids in such an underhanded way it builds a sense of distrust and anger for years to come–hence the tennis court brouhaha. How much did the District save when they cut winter rec basketball — a couple hundred bucks a year? The kids brought their own basketballs; all they wanted was a warm gym in which to play. My taxes have risen every year for the past five to six years and yet my kids’ opportunities continue to get cut… and cut… and cut.

  9. The winter rec was funded by the township. THAT is who cut the program. So many people make assumptions about process. The learning curve is not short…just stop reading sound bites and running with it. And remember please–the township can enact an EIT with a vote. The schools need a referendum. The townships have no revenue limits on taxes…the schools are bound by Act 1. Parks and recreation are TOWNSHIP functions. Be vigilant about things that are relevant to your child’s education…all this wailing loses focus.

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