PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. - When it comes to generating revenue, no space is off limits for Palm Beach County schools.
"We've leased our parking lots to various businesses around here that needed extra parking," says Sean Ashworth, the assistant principal at Palm Springs Community Middle School.
Ashworth has worked in education for fourteen years, and for the past five years he has assumed the role of leasing coordinator. Classrooms, auditoriums and cafeterias are being rented out and used for sewing classes, dance classes, church services and banquets.
"We've seen celebrations of life. We've seen sweet 16 parties. We've seen homeowner associations that may not have a club house will come and rent our place for a meeting," said Barry Present, the director of Real Estate Services for Palm Beach County schools.
The money raised is used for school supplies. Rental profits helped pay for the electronic marquee at Palm Springs Community Middle school.
"Usually this school brings in about $25,000 dollars a year in lease fees. The senior high schools bring in considerable more 'cause they have a bigger campus and more facilities," said Ashworth.
Each school works as its own franchise. The school board sets the leasing policies.
The district's real estate services department oversees the school facility leasing program. The real estate services department describes the rates for school facility usage as competitive and conservative.
If a non-profit organization rents space, 65% of the profit goes towards the school and 35% goes towards the district.
For commercial rates, the schools keep 80% and the district gets 20%.