Baltimore County Board of Education members on Tuesday decided not to vote on a new version of Policy 1300, its controversial policy governing the use of school property by non-school organizations, but instead sent it back to the board's policy review committee.
Since the Board of Education decided during its March 19 retreat to review the matter, the board has received dozens of comments from the public about the proposed changes.
Though the policy revision was scheduled for a vote at the Tuesday meeting, board members weren't comfortable making a decision.
Board member and former vice-president Edward Parker moved that the proposed changes be sent back to the review committee "to specifically take under consideration a myriad of comments from the public and board members," he said.
Board member Rodger Janssen felt the same.
"I would prefer to take it home and review it more in depth," Janssen said.
The board's new president, Towson native Lawrence Schmitt, agreed.
Policy 1300 prohibits for-profit vendors from using school grounds for events.
The policy had been a source of tension between the school system and PTAs — and also with state and local legislators — because PTAs and other school booster groups had, for years, been allowed to use school grounds for events like craft fairs, in which they'd sublease individual booth space to for-profit vendors.
The PTAs and booster clubs often raked in thousands of dollars from each event, money they would funnel back into the school via scholarships, financial support for school technology funds and other school programs.
About two years ago, the issue came to a head when the school system began to increase enforcement on the policy, denying applications for events that had been held annually for years.
As a result, several long-standing events have been canceled, including community-beloved events such as craft fairs at Loch Raven High School, Ridgely Middle School and Catonsville High School, as well as a huge town festival at Perry Hall High School, a flea market at Parkville High and other events, most of which were the primary fundraisers for those schools' PTAs and booster organizations.
Other nearby school districts, including of Prince George's, Harford, Howard and Anne Arundel and Montgomery counties, permit for-profit activities on county school property, according to Baltimore County school officials.
Baltimore County and Baltimore City schools do not allow for-profit activities, with the exception of sales of necessary goods and services, such as food for the cafeteria, photography for yearbook photos, class rings and the like.
Additionally, Montgomery allows sub-letting or subleasing, meaning that if a PTA rents a school for an event, it is permitted to rent spaces to for-profit vendors.
Baltimore County's policy does not allow the same.
The five main changes to Policy 1300 proposed by the county school board's policy review committee are:
• Adding a direct link in the policy online to the Use of School Facilities application form.
• Adding a list of groups authorized to use school facilities.
• Adding an outline of conditions of use of school facilities.