The Bryan County Health Department hosted a discussion about State Bill 1882, the Shared Use Bill Thursday. This bill is designed to allow after hours use of public schools at no risk to the school.
The American Heart Association joined forces with the Oklahoma Fit Kids Coalition to set this project in motion. The goal is to provide a safe place to for children to exercise.
The bill will go into effect on November 1, 2012. After this date schools will no longer be reliable for damage or injury during after-hours activities not performed by the school.
This would mean a community group could sign a Shared Use Agreement with the school in which liability details and rules of use would be laid out.
With this agreement the group would take liability for damage or injuries while at the school. The school may even require the group to have and show proof of insurance to secure any damages would be paid for.
For general community use the liability would fall on the individuals using the school facilities. Some schools in the state already have informal agreements in place.
Tishomingo Schools charge a small fee for after-hours use. The fee insures any damage or wear and tear due to public use is taken care of.
According to Fit Kids Ok Director Amber England, many schools say that their doors have been open for public use but people simply don’t know it.
In Thursday’s meeting community group leaders were given a “tool kit” to aid them in bringing the Shared Use Project to their community schools.
With Senate Bill 1882, schools will not be forced to enter into Shared Use Agreements or to open their doors to the community.
They may be addressed by members of the community and choose whether to enter into an agreement to allow after-hours access.
In the meeting, England and Marilyn Davidson with the American Heart Association instructed group leaders to find out what the school administrators worry about and what they are passionate about.
“Find out what keeps them up at night and what gets them up in the morning.” said England.
By finding out their concerns and passions England said that the groups have more of a chance to make the administrators sympathize with their cause.
Groups were also instructed to use a “hook, line and sinker” method. With this method the group would go to administrators and present why they are there such as the children in the community have no park.
They would then present why they personally care such as they have children and they would like to see them have a place to play after school.
Finally they would present a solution such as a Shared Use agreement for the school to review.
According to a statement released by Governor Mary Fallin, she fully supports the bill. Fallin said in the statement that passing the bill will help return public schools to the hub of activity.