Renewed interest in collaborative agreement for West Marin gymnasium


Recent buzz around Shoreline Unified School District’s November bond measure to fund facility improvements has renewed attention to a joint-use agreement for the West Marin School gymnasium that is held between the district and the West Marin Field Committee. “When we look at considering a new bond measure for certain facilities, the taxpayers want to know that the facilities are going to be used for their intended purposes,” Madeline Hope, who has sat on the Field Committee since 2006, said. “This is a good opportunity for the district to look back and renew its commitment to honoring the joint use agreement for the gym.” The Field Committee, a nonprofit founded in 1995 to restore local sports facilities, partnered with the district in the early 2000s to attain a state grant for nearly half of the funds to build the new gym, which cost over $2 million. According to a joint-use agreement signed at that time, the two entities committed to ensuring that the gym was available for the community outside of the regular school day for at least 20 hours a week. Ms. Hope said that aspect of the agreement, among others, has not been upheld; she estimates that around 10 to 15 hours outside of school are currently used for other programs, such as weekly basketball and volleyball pickup games. The Tomales Bay Youth Center, which Ms. Hope directs, uses the facility on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. But Ms. Hope envisions much more. “The West Marin Field Committee hopes to activate a more robust, integrated and supported recreation schedule,” she said, highlighting the possibility of ping pong, pickleball and dancing, along with outdoor activities. “It would be ideal to have the shared roles and responsibilities acknowledged and supported by [the district], Field Committee members and the Lions Club all working together.” Additionally, the district has been the sole recipient of the fees charged for conferences or special events such as the Geography of Hope; Ms. Hope said that it was her understanding that those funds would be split with the committee, though that is not spelled out specifically in the agreement. “The larger events that generate income for the facility could support the Field Committee to continue its focus on supporting youth, young adults and the community to live healthy, active lives during non-school time,” she wrote in an email to the Light. “[The district] does in fact still pay for the general maintenance, the utilities and much of the wear and tear on the facility, but it was intended that, as a joint-use partner, the Field Committee would be in the conversation and helping to create and implement the maintenance and management of the facility.” Reached last week, Superintendent Bob Raines said that the school district does not make money off of the outside events; rather, those proceeds go toward overtime pay for employees who help manage the facilities during events. The tide may be changing with the recent turnover in principals at West Marin School. Interim principal Chris Eckert, who himself sits on the Field Committee, and Mr. Raines plan to attend the next committee meeting to discuss the joint-use agreement and the best steps forward. “We were so grateful to have had the support in building the gym,” Mr. Raines said. “I think we have upheld the agreement, though one problem has definitely been adequate communication with the community. I look forward to learning more about how to collaborate better with the committee and to publicize a facilities use calendar to get the word out.”