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Cherry Creek schools: well-used community resources

​On any given day, dozens of different activities are going on in and around Cherokee Trail High School before and after school hours.

“We have the volleyball team in the gym, chess club in the upper commons, cheer in the cafeteria, hip hop club in the lower commons,” said Pam Graham, the CTHS activities and athletics assistant.

499 Aurora Scholars in CTHS gym.jpgAnd those are just the school-sponsored activities. Graham says the school also provides space for dozens of outside organizations. “We have a local swim club using the pool, we have a Girl Scout dance coming up and the City of Aurora is holding an event in the cafeteria later this month.”

The same scenario plays out at every school in the district.

“Our schools are vital community resources,” said Larry Bull, director of activities and athletics for Cherry Creek Schools. “They are used before and after school, during the week and on weekends, all year long, by both school and community organizations.”

In fact, community organizations spent 70,000 hours in Cherry Creek schools during the 2014-15 school year. That’s the equivalent of 7.9 years!

Many of those community organizations are youth-oriented. They include enrichment programs, scout groups, youth sports organizations and performing arts programs. Julia Kozdron, one of two people who make up the Cherry Creek Schools Facility Rentals department, says parents like coming back to their children’s schools for outside activities.

“They want their kids’ activities to be held in a safe place, a familiar place, a place the parents have confidence in,” Kozdron said.

Schools facilities are also used by local homeowners associations and other community groups. In addition, they play an important role in our nation’s political process. This year, 17 political caucuses were held in Cherry Creek schools and two district facilities will serve as polling places on Election Day.

Julia and Jill at work.jpgManaging that incredible volume of events is handled by Kozdron and Jill Schmidt, a dynamic duo that is the single point of contact for the hundreds of outside organizations that use school facilities. They provide information on rental rates and insurance requirements, provide photos and specifications about the different areas available in each school and process rental requests so schools don’t have to.

“We take that off their plates so they can focus on the mission of educating children," Schmidt said.

But Schmidt and Kozdron are quick to point out that they are part of a much larger team that includes school administrators, building engineers, security specialists and activities and athletics staff members like Graham.

“It’s crazy busy, but I love it,” Graham said.

Facility rental requests were centralized about 15 years ago, and about six years ago, the district implemented “Facilities Scheduler,” an online system available to both internal and external facility users.

“There is such a demand for facilities there has to be some kind of system or we would have so many conflicts,” Graham said.

Kozdron said Facilities Scheduler makes renting facilities more user-friendly, community-friendly, and more reflective of the real usage of school facilities. Schmidt said it also cuts down on paperwork, reduces overhead, improves communications and creates more transparency.

Kozdron and Schmidt approved more than 1,500 rental permits for community groups during the 2015-16 school year and expect that number to be equal or greater this year. They say they enjoy the work they do. Schmidt says she loves working with school staff members and outside organizations and learning about the many great programs that are available to kids across the community. Both women are proud of the work they do.

“I love seeing the support our community gets from staff members throughout the district,” Kozdron added. “It really does reflect that dedication to excellence that we strive for as a district and as a department.”

Get more information about CCSD Facility Rentals here.

Posted 9/19/2016 4:02 PM

Community organizations spent 70,000 hours in Cherry Creek schools during the 2014-15 school year. That’s the equivalent of 7.9 years!

Gymnasiums and sports fields are the areas that get the greatest use.
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