You've got to pay to play.
That's the word from the Great Neck school board which agreed this week to begin charging some outside groups facility use fees for the first time.
The adopted fees will recoup some of the costs to the school district, which until now, agreed to let many outside organizations use facilities like ball fields for free — putting instructional budgets at risk, they say.
"With a tax cap that we have of two percent we had a primary responsibility to the education of our students in our schools," said board President Barbara Berkowitz at North High School. "As difficult a decison as it was, it was something that we felt was the only fair and equitable thing that we could do."
The district's facility use policy has been amended five times since first being adopted in 1997, according Berkowitz.
Members of several groups spoke out against the plan during the school board meeting Monday.
Jack Lipsky, representing the Great Neck Baseball League, said fees could now increase up to 60 percent for about 350 players who utilizes district facilities at North and South High Schools in Great Neck. The majority of the players attend private schools outside of the public school district.
Facility use costs for the non-profit league would rise from zero to $6,000 overnight, according to Lipsky, who asked for a "break" from the proposed charges which he called exorbitant and unfair.
"We're asking for the board to consider a reasonable discussion, at least for a temporary time, to waive the fees," Lipksy said.
School officials said it is not in their best interest to destroy local programs.
With the new plan, some organizations might pay as much as a third of the actual cost to schools but probably none would get a free ride, according to Superintendent Thomas Dolan.
"We cannot continue to give the fields away for free because it takes away from the instructional programs," said Superintendent Thomas Dolan.
The adopted sliding fee scale will be be based on the type of group requesting use permission, according to the plan which was approved 5-0.
"One of the things we are looking to do is to look at groups and what their costs are and determine what the real registration fee is," said Dolan.
Also at Monday's meeting