CHAPTER 457

AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14, DELAWARE CODE, RELATING TO THE USE, CONTROL AND MANAGEMENT OF PUBLIC SCHOOL PROPERTY.

WHEREAS, public school property belongs to the citizens of the State and the local communities, its use should be encouraged for all worthy purposes, including educational, cultural, recreational, political, and civic; and

WHEREAS, participation in the use of public school property by all citizens of the community should be permitted when such participation does not interfere with the primary purpose of the school; and

WHEREAS, a broad participation by the citizens in the affairs of the community should be a means of fostering one of the basic principles of a democracy, the development of good citizenship;

NOW, THEREFORE,

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Delaware:

Section 1. Sections 124, 713, 714 and 942, Title 14, Delaware Code, are hereby repealed.

Section 2. Title 14, Delaware Code, is amended by adding a new Section 124 to read as follows:

§ 124. School property; use, control and management

(a) As used in this Section:

"School board" means Board of Education or Board of School Trustees.

"Public school districts" or "school districts" mean Special School Districts, State Board Unit School Districts, the School

District for the City of Wilmington, area high school district, and any other public school districts not heretofore mentioned.

"School Property or School facilities" mean buildings, land and playground including playground equipment.

"School equipment" as used in this section shall be deemed to mean, and to include, but not be limited to: kitchen equipment, projection equipment, office machines, laboratory equipment, industrial arts equipment, art equipment, home economics equipment, and scoreboards.

(b) All property, estate, effects, money, funds, claims, and State donations heretofore vested by law in the public school authorities of any public school district, for the benefit of the public schools of such district, shall be under the control, management, and custody of the Board of Education or the Board of School Trustees of such district. Any real and personal estate granted, conveyed, devised or bequeathed, or which may hereafter be granted, conveyed, devised or bequeathed, for the use of any public school district, shall be held in trust by the Board of Education or the Board of School Trustees for the benefit of the public schools of the respective district. Such grants, bequests or money invested in trust for the use of any public school district, shall be exempt from all State, county, and local taxes.

(c) The control, management, and custody of school property in all public school districts shall be subject to the Laws of Delaware, the rules and regulations of the State Board of Education, and the rules and regulations of Boards of Education and Boards of School Trustees of the respective school districts. Each Board of Education and Board of School Trustees shall adopt a set of rules and regulations governing the use of school property within the respective district subject to the provisions hereinafter set forth, and subject to approval by the State Board of Education. The primary purpose for the use of school property is the education of children and youth. The use of such property for purposes other than the primary purpose shall not be permitted whenever such use would interfere with the primary purpose. Any scheduled public school activity, whether taking place during the school day or otherwise, shall have precedence over any other activity for the use of such property. However, in order to encourage the citizens of any community to participate in worthwhile community activities, school boards shall consider any written request by ten citizens of the respective districts, or a recognized community organization, for the use of school property in such districts for purposes other than the primary purpose. The decisions of such boards regarding the granting of such requests shall be based upon a consideration of the following conditions, (1) through (4), listed in order of importance:

(1) The facility requested for use has not been scheduled for use at the time requested;

(2) The use of the facility requested will be beneficial to children and youth and consistent with the program of education of the school district;

(3) The use of the facility requested will serve a purpose that is educational, cultural, civic, political, or recreational;

(4) The use of the facility requested will not afford personal monetary gain to the individuals participating in the activity.

(d) A school board shall permit the use of property under its jurisdiction free of charge, except, however, for the expense of custodial salaries, heating and lighting in excess of the school's normal operations, whenever the purpose is educational, cultural, civic, political, or recreational provided there is no monetary gain to the individuals or organization using such property as a result of such use. It shall be deemed that there was no monetary gain if all charges or admissions in excess of the costs of such purpose are donated to a charitable purpose (as defined for State of Delaware Personal Income Tax purposes). The use of school equipment and school property for all other purposes, shall be based upon a fee schedule to be determined by the school board, subject to the approval of the State Board of Education. All such fees collected by a school board shall be placed on deposit with the State Treasurer to be distributed as follows:

(1) The portion of the fee which is equal to the cost of the school district for providing such facilities shall be placed in a clearly designated special fund account to be used exclusively for the purpose of paying custodial salaries, heating, and electrical costs.

(2) That portion of the fee which is in excess of the cost to the school district for providing such facilities shall be deposited in the General Fund of the State.

(e) Any Board of Education or Board of School Trustees may refuse to permit the use of any school property under its jurisdiction for any purpose, which, in its discretion, would tend to interfere with the program of the public schools or would not be in harmony with the purposes of public education in such matters as character building, the development of unprejudiced social attitudes, and the training of pupils for responsible citizenship. Any dispute which may arise because of the refusal of any school board to permit the use of any school property under its jurisdiction to any organization or group of citizens, shall be resolved by appeal, in writing, to the State Board of Education.

(f) Any group of citizens permitted to use school property, shall be responsible for any damages done to such property over and above the ordinary wear. The extent of such damage shall be determined by the board having control over such property, subject to approval by the State Board of Education.

(g) Any school board which permits the use of public school property for any use other than for public school use, shall not be liable in tort for any damages by reason of negligence in the construction or maintenance of such property.

(h) All public schools receiving an appropriation of state funds shall be governed by the provisions of this section as a condition for the receipt of such state funds.

Approved July 21, 1966.