Civic Center Act Amended to Expand Definition of “Direct Costs” School Districts May Charge for Use of School Facilities and Grounds

When Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 1404 into law on September 29, 2012, the Civic Center Act (Education Code section 38130 et seq.) was amended to expand the definition of direct costs that a school district governing board may charge for use of its school facilities or grounds. The amendment also removed language that limited the requirement to allow use to “when an alternate location is not available.” By expanding the scope of direct costs and removing this limitation, the State Legislature seeks to “encourage all school districts to maximize opportunities to make available and accessible public facilities and grounds to their communities as civic centers.”

The amended Section 38134 of the Civic Center Act expands the definition of direct costs that a school district may charge to include ”the share of the costs for maintenance, repair, restoration, and refurbishment, proportional to the use of the school facilities or grounds” by the entity using them. These charges are only applicable to the use of non-classroom space and school grounds, which includes, but is not limited to, playing fields, athletic fields, track and field venues, tennis courts, and outdoor basketball courts. It does not apply to classroom-based programs that operate during after-school hours (e.g., tutoring or child care programs) or organizations retained by the school or school district to provide instruction or instructional activities during school hours.

SB 1404 also requires that funds collected for maintenance, repair, restoration and refurbishment be deposited into a special fund designated only for those purposes. In addition, SB 1404’s amendment to the Civic Center Act will sunset on January 1, 2020, unless a statute is enacted prior to the expiration date that deletes or extends that date.

While the amendment to the Civic Center Act went into effect January 1, 2013, the amendment specifically gives the Superintendent of Public Instruction and State Board of Education until December 31, 2013 to develop and adopt regulations that school districts can use in calculating the proportionate share and how such direct costs are to be determined. Accordingly, until such regulations are adopted, school districts remain with limited guidance as to what specific allowable costs may be included as direct costs and how to determine a proportionate share for use of its facilities and grounds.

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