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After hours of discussion and consideration at public meetings and work sessions over a period of two months, the South Adams Schools Board denied a request by Pastor Mo Hodge to use the school facility in Berne as an extension of The Bridge Community Church's Decatur campus. Nearly 50 people packed the choir room at Tuesday's meeting to hear the board's decision.
Hodge explained that the church would like to rent the schools' auditorium and six classrooms from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. every Sunday, beginning September 9, for an extended period of time.
He said, "Obviously it would be on a trial basis because we know that we're guests of the school. And, we'll make every attempt to have a positive relationship and fulfill our part of the bargain by paying the fees, keeping the school clean and paying for any damages - those kinds of things."
Prior to denying the pastor's request, the board agreed to add two paragraphs to its "frequent facility usage" policy.
The first added paragraph reads: “Frequent facility usage will be taken to the board for its consideration. The board in making its determination will be guided by principles of law and by the policy guidelines. It may assess additional fees for such frequent facility usage on a weekly or monthly basis. A written lease agreement detailing the specific conditions of the frequent facility use must be approved by the school board. The school board reserves the right to limit the length of all frequent facility use requests.”
The second paragraph added to the policy reads: “In regards to frequent use of facilities, school facilities will only be rented to educationally-related organizations that offer post-secondary classes/programs.”
With those paragraphs added, the board voted 6-1 (Steve Dobler opposing) to deny the church's long-term facility use request. Guests of the board offered no comments.