FELLSMERE – Fellsmere groups might be allowed once again to use space within Fellsmere Elementary School.
Some time ago, the school was used as a community center after students left for the day – serving as a place for civic groups to meet, karate classes to be held, and pancake breakfasts to be dished up.
The Fellsmere City Council met with the Indian River County School Board Tuesday evening to discuss ways the two groups could work together. One issue was the return to using the elementary school.
School Board Chairwoman Karen Disney-Brombach, a Fellsmere resident, asked the council why the city wasn’t getting more use out of the school, recalling the various activities that had once been held there.
“We were told we couldn’t use it,” Councilwoman Sara Savage said.
Councilman Joel Tyson reminded his fellow council members and the school board that there had been someone years ago who operated a catering service out of the school’s cafeteria, which caused problems with the district.
He added that it was a shame that one misuse of the site could lead to the community being shut out of the school.
Tyson also explained that the city opened the Fellsmere Community Center, located in the former Oculina Bank, which decreased the need for community space at the school.
Schools Superintendent Dr. Harry La Cava told the Fellsmere City Council that certain uses at schools were no longer permissible due to liability and insurance concerns.
For instance, karate classes that had been held at the school are now considered a liability. Cooking in the school’s cafeteria, too, would not be allowed due to strict guidelines protecting the sanitation of the kitchen and security of the food kept on-site.
La Cava told the council that schools could be used for meeting space. Churches rent space at schools on Sundays for worship services.
He explained that there is typically a rental agreement and fee to use space at the schools.
The superintendent told council members that if they provided a list of proposed uses at the school, he could run it by his risk management team to determine what could be allowed.
School Board member Carol Johnson said that as much as the board loves Fellsmere, it has to protect itself from lawsuits.
The joint meeting between the two government bodies also touched on the long-anticipated expansion plans for the chronically overpopulated elementary school.
The city, working in partnership with the school district, has proposed relocating the handball courts across the street from the school to provide off-site parking.
The relocation of parking would allow school officials to expand the cafeteria and build more classrooms where the current parking is located.
To read prior coverage of the Fellsmere Elementary School’s expansion, click HERE.