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Palm Beach County School Board to address district changes to leasing policy

Questions surface after recent Contact 5 story
Palm Beach County School District logo
Posted at 1:26 PM, May 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-05 17:54:53-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A Palm Beach County school board member is expected to ask questions about the district's leasing policy following a recent Contact 5 investigation.

Alexandria Ayala plans to ask district staff Wednesday about changes to its leasing policy, the reasoning behind it and what the leases cost the district.

Her questions come after Contact 5 recently showed you how the district changed its leasing policy and raised the rent last summer in the midst of the pandemic.

Ayala wasn't on the board when the vote and changes took place last summer, but she told Contact 5 that "school buildings are taxpayer-funded" and "students and the community should be able to use them without exorbitant costs."

The changes now require all facilities listed on a lease to be rented for the same number of hours and a two-hour minimum for leases on non-school days.

The director of the department that oversees leasing recently told Contact 5 that the changes are because the district is trying to recover "utilities and maintenance costs" and "ensure adequate supervision of the spaces that are being rented."

A summer camp owner recently told us the changes would have raised his rent 500 percent.

"We were (paying) about $3,000 a week to lease this facility here in Jupiter," he told Contact 5.

Contact 5 asked him what the school district wants to charge him now.

"I had the bookkeeper (run) the lease, and it would be $14,600 a week," he said.

The discussion is expected to get underway this afternoon, and of course we’ll let you know happens.

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