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POLAND -- Groups using RSU 16 school facilities would be required to have liability insurance, if a policy discussed Monday night by the School Committee is adopted.
Assistant Superintendent Kim Brandt told the committee that most Maine school districts already have, or are in the process of adopting, such a policy as a matter of fiscal responsibility.
The policy, Brandt explained, if adopted, would require groups using school facilities to have $100,000 worth of liability insurance in case of damage or injury. It would go into effect this August.
"It's meant to protect the district, and therefore the taxpayers from incurring costs in the form of repairs or increased premiums due to claims," Brandt said.
Brandt pointed to an instance where someone in a group playing basketball kicked the ball, which hit the ceiling and touched off the sprinkler system, flooding the gym floor.
"The result was an expensive claim and now the district is paying substantially higher premiums for seven years," Brandt said, "money that could be used to support student learning."
Brandt said groups in Mechanic Falls and Poland using the school gym for athletics can choose to go through town recreation departments, which carry liability insurance or they can purchase their own.
"Groups in Minot don't have that option," Brandt said, "so they will need to purchase liability insurance."
Brandt said some groups have other ways to obtain coverage, like scouting organizations or the Minot-Hebron Athletic Association, and others might be able to link up with adult ed or parent teacher organizations.
Minot Consolidated School Principal Arthur Reed said the association covers youths but not adults, and the Minot Community Club doesn't carry the sort of coverage a parent teacher organization can.
School Committee member Katie Love suggested the administration draw up a list of groups using school facilities and figure out which aren't covered.
"We should find out who's affected and give them options," Love said.
Brandt said the August implementation date is geared to allow community members time to plan and make arrangements.
Minot, Mechanic Falls and Poland have a long, rich history that includes the school as the center of the towns, Brandt said. The district's goal is to have them continue to be "a place where children and adults can learn, thrive and participate in healthy lifestyle activities such as athletics."
But, Brandt said, the School Committee also has a clear duty to be fiscally responsible.
In other business, the committee adopted a calendar for the 2014- 15 school year that is substantially aligned with that of the Lewiston Regional Technical Center.
The committee also recognized Poland Regional High School Principal Cari Medd as Maine's Principal of the Year, and Delaney Woodford and Renee Reid as Class of 2014 valedictorian and salutatorian, respectively.
Members also recognized C.J. Martin for receiving the Pierre Harnois award for being MVP in the Western Maine Regional basketball tourney, Matt Rabasco for being crowned State Class B long jump champion at the track meet at Bates College, and Emily Bolduc for setting a new school record by scoring 989 points in her basketball career.