Guides Use of College Facilities
headlines in The Arizona Republic screamed, "[School name]
violated school law; charter no longer will receive free space."
Thus, another Arizona public entity found itself ignominiously at
odds with the Arizona Attorney General's Office, a dispute played
out visibly for all to see.
reason for the banner headline was the Attorney General's conclusion
that an arrangement between a public school district and a charter
school, in which the school took troubled students from the district
in exchange for free rent, violated the law. The charter school,
the Attorney General stated, was already required to take the troubled
students, so the district wasn't getting anything new in exchange
for the free rent. While there were some other titillating details
of this arrangement that made it newsworthy, the "free rent"
aspect was the significant "booboo" and made the front
page of the Valley & State Section.
how do we at Maricopa avoid that pitfall? The answer is simple.
We have an administrative regulation in place that specifies how
we may use our facilities. It's contained in the Blue Book and is
also available on-line at http://www.maricopa.edu/publicstewardship/governance/adminregs/adminregs_toc.php.
how, you ask, is facilities use tied to "Fiscal Management?"
It's because the genesis of the relationship is the Arizona Constitution,
which precludes any public entity from "gifting" its resources
of any kind to a third party. In Brief featured an article about
this constitutional provision in its spring 1998 edition, and the
article is available at http://www.maricopa.edu/legal/dp/inbrief/publicresources.htm
a result of that relationship, the underlying analysis for appropriate
use of our facilities is in some respects the same as the one we
use to determine whether the use of other types of resources, mainly
funds, is for "official functions." If an outside party
uses our facilities for an event or activity and we charge the party
something less that a fair market rent or nothing at all, the event
or activity must be one that we legitimately sponsor, which means
it has to relate directly to our educational mission as outlined
in law and Governing Board policy.
a few situations, the District Office has permitted a third party
to use our facilities for reduced or no rent in exchange for services
that we have objectively determined to be at least equal in value
to the fair market rent we normally charge for the facilities use.
The facilities use administrative regulation requires the Vice Chancellor
for Business Services, a College President or their designee to
determine that certain conditions exist before allowing a reduced
rent or waiving it altogether. Because of the tax, accounting and
legal issues that those situations raise, the District Office -
Legal Services and Finance Departments - should be involved in making
are only a couple of those arrangements that currently exist here,
and the outside parties in those cases are a charter school and
a non-profit community affairs organization. Since it was an attempt
at this type of arrangement that the Attorney General's Office found
to violate the law in the school district situation mentioned at
the outset of this article, we need to avoid making the same mistake.
are some highlights of the facilities use administrative regulation
that are important to remember:
We always require an outside party to provide us with an insurance
certificate that meets certain standards and shows that the Maricopa
Community Colleges is an additional insured even when we are a
co-sponsor of the event or activity. Practically speaking, we
make an exception where the outside party is another public entity,
such as a city or county, because we know that they carry significant
insurance. But that call needs to be made by the person at the
campus or District Office responsible for managing that campus's
or District Office's use.
board members, employees and their relatives and associates may
not use Maricopa facilities for their personal, business or non-Maricopa
activities. So, if an employee is giving private music lessons
at our facility, they must enter into a facilities use agreement,
pay rent, and provide us with insurance. The regulation doesn't
prevent an employee from using a college's track course in off
hours, for instance, for personal exercise since other members
of the public do the same thing.
need to have a written agreement in place for facilities use.
The type of agreement generally depends on the length of the outside
party's use. Agreements are important because they establish the
rules with which the party must comply and also state clearly
that the party is responsible for damage or injuries that it may
will not enter into anything but a short-term agreement for uses
of our facilities that are personal or commercial in nature. Committing
our resources for those uses other than for a short time would
likely not have our students' or the taxpayers' best interest
it's important for us to be good stewards of our facilities. At
a minimum, it helps us meet the "newspaper" test.
in the Spring 2006 and Summer 2004 Edition of In Brief