Some 23,500 students fill Vancouver Public Schools’ classrooms, cafeterias, sports fields and gyms every day. But after school and during evenings, weekends and summers, another population moves in: the greater community.
Concerts, basketball games, public forums, meetings, soccer games and other activities bring thousands of people onto school grounds. In 2016, the district signed more than 3,200 contracts for the use of its facilities with both external groups and internal groups, which are given first priority.
One external group is the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, which has long used Skyview High School’s auditorium and other venues such as the Royal Durst Theatre at Vancouver School of Arts and Academics.
Said the symphony’s executive director, Igor Shakhman, “Skvyiew’s auditorium is a great concert hall for VSO’s performances. It is acoustically superior to any other performance venue in this area. The size of the auditorium is perfectly suited for our performances.”
While VPS must charge a rental fee due to state mandates against public use of district funds, the rates are competitive. District-sponsored activities are not charged a fee.
Although after-hours use compounds the wear and tear that buildings receive over the course of their lifespan, district leaders believe in giving the community an opportunity to use the infrastructure it supports and funds through bond measures.
Said Marla Wood, manager of the community services department, which handles rentals, “Our facilities reflect an important investment in schools. We want the community to have an opportunity to use them.”