Rocky Fork Enterprise

Board OKs deal with YMCA, despite Mounts' objection

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As a show of business partnership Nov. 14, most Gahanna-Jefferson Board of Education members approved an agreement with the YMCA of Central Ohio for the use of a Clark Hall multipurpose room on the second floor.

Board member Scott Mounts voted against the one-year agreement that became effective Nov. 1. Either party may terminate the agreement with a 90-day written notice.

Mounts said Clark Hall was built for students to use.

"I look at it as it set empty most of school year," he said. "This would be used in evenings. It's still unoccupied during school hours. I think it would be good to re-evaluate other purposes for that room."

Board member Dewitt Harrell said he's concerned about the message it would send to the YMCA if it weren't approved.

"This goes toward relationship-building and partnerships," he said. "There's opportunity to re-evaluate. There's an expectation for us to approve this. We can still assess. My only concern is the message we would send if we don't approve."

Mounts expressed more concern about the length of the term.

"If we don't approve, it doesn't mean they're kicked out," he said. "They could go month to month. At the end of six months, we could see if there's a better use to serve the student population. We could evaluate other options for that space."

Board member Windy McKenna said the multipurpose room for fitness is part of the district's wellness initiative.

"We can use it as board members, and we don't have to be members of the Y," she said. "They're doing things for us. I think it's only fair we do things for them. They were going to cut back on our pool time, and (Superintendent) Mr. (Francis) Scruci worked it out with them."

On principle, Mounts said, the building was built for students to relieve congestion at the high school.

"Whatever the purpose for this room, it didn't materialize," he said.

Board president Claire Yoder thanked Mounts for making the point and called for a vote.

Mounts was the lone dissenter. Yoder, Harrell and McKenna voted for the agreement. Board member Jill Schuler was absent.

The agreement states it formalizes the understanding pursuant to which the YMCA shall operate a program center inside Clark Hall.

It allows the YMCA the right to use the designated space for fitness equipment, the restrooms and the use of multipurpose spaces and common areas.

The multipurpose room is designated to be used by the YMCA for health, wellness, fitness, community education and youth development programs and for staff training for those programs.

The YMCA is entitled to the areas from 3 to 8:30 p.m. Mondays-Fridays and from 9 a.m. to noon Saturdays.

Any Gahanna-Jefferson resident who is a YMCA member is permitted to use the facility during scheduled hours, according to district public-information officer Mallory Sribanditmongkol.

District employees and district retirees who don't have a YMCA membership may use the Clark Hall facilities during YMCA hours at no charge with proof of district identification. Spouses of district employees and retirees also may use the facilities.

Children who are not YMCA members are not allowed to use the facilities.

Children ages 9-10 who are members may use the facilities if they are within arm's reach of adult supervision. Children ages 11-15 may use the facilities under the supervision of an adult. Children 11-15 may use the facilities without supervision after completion of the "Iron Teen" program, which teaches them how to design a workout and safely and effectively use machines.

The district is permitted to use YMCA equipment and space for school programs during non-YMCA hours.

The district is not charging the YMCA any fee, according to the agreement.

In other board action, an agreement was approved with the Jerome Schottenstein Center for commencement ceremonies for the next three years.

The dates and cost to host graduation at the center are: May 24, 2014, $16,753; May 23, 2015, $17,591; and May 28, 2016, $18,471.

"For seniors, this is your graduation day, May 24," McKenna told students at the meeting. "Don't forget: We don't let anyone walk on May 24 unless you pass your classes. Study hard and make your parents proud."

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