Clovis Unified cancels facility use by outside groups

Read more at: https://www.fresnobee.com/news/article279608869.html#storylink=cpy

Original story by The Fresno Bee’s Laura Diaz.
The following is a summary:

The Clovis Unified school board has made a decision to cancel all existing reservations made by external groups to utilize school facilities. They made this announcement during a heavily attended Wednesday evening meeting, citing concerns that too many external groups were occupying school facilities during regular school hours, thus interfering with student activities.

This move has stirred controversy due to changes in the facilities usage policy over the past year. An LGBTQ+ community group claimed that their request to rent space for an after-school story hour at an elementary school, attended by the child of the group’s director, was ignored. Tracy Bohren, a Clovis mother and LGBTQ+ advocate, voiced her concerns during the public comment period, emphasizing that school districts should not selectively determine access to school facilities. She called for fairness and equal access for all.

The board ultimately voted 5-2 in favor of rescinding their approval for external groups to use facilities during school hours (between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. on school days). As a result, all organizations that had reserved time for student activities or events during these hours must either cancel or modify their bookings, according to the district. The reason cited for this decision was the need for these facilities for academic enrichment during the school day.

For instance, the district had to deny access to a district-run chess club due to a “dramatically increased enrollment” because the facility they needed had already been booked by an external organization, explained Clovis superintendent Corrine Folmer.

Jason Scott, a local parent and LGBTQ+ advocate, questioned the district’s facilities reservation practices when several groups were accepted, but his organization was not. He believes this questioning led to the board’s decision to backtrack on their approvals for existing reservations. Scott is the executive director of the LGBT Community Network, a Fresno/Clovis-based nonprofit, and has been attempting to reserve space for an inclusive reading hour after school at the elementary school his son attends for nearly a year.

The Good News Club and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes were among the groups with the most approved reservations. The Good News Club is an after-school program for children aged 5-12, focusing on Bible lessons from the Child Evangelism Fellowship, with 303 reservations across elementary schools. The Fellowship of Christian Athletes, aiming to encourage athletes to play for God’s glory, had 161 reservations across various schools.

The district clarified that weekend reservations and reservations before 7 a.m. or after 6 p.m. on weekdays, when school is not in session, remain as previously approved, following the request process outlined on the Clovis Unified website.

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