Oak Creek — The Recreation Department is ceding control of three of its largest programs — playground, basketball and swimming — to the school district in exchange for retaining priority use of portions of East Middle School.
"This is the best we're going to get at this time," Recreation Director Mary Jane Trate said.
While the department is losing three major programs, it still will be able to operate more programs in the schools than first proposed in July.
For its part, the Oak Creek-Franklin Joint School District will assume the costs and operations of the playground, basketball and swimming programs, and gain greater flexibility to allow community groups to use its facilities.
Lack of flexibility is what originally opened the discussion that led to the compromise approved by the Common Council on Tuesday.
The district proposed taking over all recreation programs in school facilities after experiencing pressure from community groups who wanted to use school facilities that were reserved by the Recreation Department, but not actually being used.
"It looked like our Park and Rec was going to get slashed to pieces and people were going to lose their jobs," Alderman Dan Bukiewicz said.
But Parks officials, Mayor Stephen Scaffidi, City Administrator Gerald Peterson and School Board members got together and discussed options, arriving at a compromise.
The Recreation Department will retain its priority in blocking time for use of East Middle School's multipurpose rooms, cafeteria and classrooms.
The changes, while costing the Recreation Department $80,000 in revenue, will be a financial wash for the department due since it won't pay to run the three programs. The school district has tentatively agreed to hire any part-time staff that the Recreation Department employed in running the transitioning programs.
In addition to the facility usage change, the school district will now have to pay for stormwater fees and eventually garbage fees, which will cost the district $11,000 to $12,000 annually.
As far as how the changes will affect residents, both parties are still in negotiations over how registration will be managed. There are no plans to change program costs. The first registration to be affected will be the basketball program, and Trate said detailed instructions on how to register will be mailed to residents.
The agreement will last until Dec. 31, 2018.
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