Community Use of Schools – Joint User Agreements
The state of NC actively encourages community use of schools. We have joint use agreements with several of the municipalities at at least 50 of our schools. Most involve shared parks/athletic fields, but we also have a library and a few gym/community centers.
We have someone in our real estate office who specializes in joint use agreements.
The JUA normally identifies the licensed areas (buildings or fields) and specifies how each entity (Town or School) can schedule its use and is responsible for the utilities and upkeep. Typically the school gets sole control and use of the licensed areas during school hours on designated school days. Associated areas such as access roads and parking are also addressed. It also covers liability issues. There is also a section that covers whether the Town or the School is able to rent out the facilities or sell concessions during any events, and, if so, how the proceeds will be shared.
The JUA also specifies how the entities will split or share the responsibilities for:
- Interior routine maintenance, and when it can be done
- Other routine maintenance (roof, walls, HVAC, utility service lines)
- Major replacements, and how costs will be shared
- Parking area access and maintenance
- Landscape maintenance
- Removing trash and litter from fields
- Custodial services — down to who is supposed to supply the toilet paper
Since I deal with the utilities end of things, I would recommend that someone who understands utility billing be involved when the JUAs are drafted. Unless there is specific separate metering of a shared area, you can’t just say that Entity A will pay for the utilities for the Gym while Entity B will pay for the rest of the school. Even if you write in that one entity is responsible for making sure that one area of the school is separately metered to allow this, unless someone is there working with the contractors to ensure separate metering, it isn’t going to happen. (And most of our electric service providers are not willing to provide a separate service for a portion of a building.) Submetering is a possibility, but may be more hassle than it is worth. For the most part, I have seen some horse-trading going on in the drafting of the agreement (e.g., you pay the separately metered water for they gym, and we’ll handle the electricity and HVAC) or we charge them based a weighted average of the total utilities bill based on the shared square footage.
Lib Reid McGowan, M.S., C.E.M., C.E.A.
Wake County Public School System
Operations – Energy and Physical Plant
1551 Rock Quarry Road
Raleigh, North Carolina 27610