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Rose Bowl players, religious groups keep campuses hopping during winter break



School facilities are used for all kinds of community events - not just as voting booths, as this one at Palms Elementary School in Culver City was last March.
School facilities are used for all kinds of community events - not just as voting booths, as this one at Palms Elementary School in Culver City was last March.
Rebecca Hill/KPCC

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There's plenty of activity at public school campuses across  Southern California during winter break - and it's not pencil sharpening.

Many school districts rent out non-classroom facilities to outside groups during the two-week end-of-year break.

Some of the renters are pretty big names. Auburn University’s football team is paying Irvine Unified $1,050 to use a high school field for practice for two days. The team is getting ready for the national championship game against Florida State at the Rose Bowl on January 6th.

"There are a lot of religious activities on the campuses, using the auditoriums for services," said Eileen Ma, L.A. Unified's deputy director of leasing.

She said the parking lots are also popular in several neighborhoods in LA's crowded west side as overflow lots for holiday events.

Officials at various districts said the rental fees are rarely enough to benefit the school. California's Civic Center Act limits the off-hour rental fees to about what it costs to maintain and clean up the facilities.

L.A. Unified charges about $500 a day for parking lot rentals. Production companies pay about $3,100 a day for filming permits. Ma said there are about half-a-dozen filming projects going on during the break.

Laguna Beach Unified facilities director Ted Doughty said the rentals are often more trouble than they're worth.

"For instance, we had a new group using our football field this last season and on their games on Sunday, they just left an inordinate amount of trash and it took us almost half the season to get them to a point where they’re actually cleaning up after themselves," he said.