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Building rentals help school district make ends meet

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If Franklin Community Schools' performing arts director can entice more dance companies to rent the high school's performing arts center, he can make more money for the district.

Doug Corliss has been making calls and sending emails to local and national dance companies since January, asking them to consider using the 6-year-old performing arts center about 20 miles south of Indianapolis for their shows and competitions.

He promotes the center's 918 seats, the size of the stage and nearby Franklin restaurants and hotels the companies and their audiences can use during performance weekends.

Companies that Corliss persuades to rent the performing arts center will pay between $6,000 and $22,000 to use it for a weekend. That money can be used to help pay school bills.

Corliss, who was hired in October, is in charge of running the lights, sound, stage and other elements of the performing arts center. He works with high school students interested in learning about how to run a theater.

But his biggest responsibility is raising money for the district through performing arts center and middle school rentals.

Franklin is planning to raise $120,000 by renting the performing arts center and middle school auditorium this year — six times what the district made in rental fees four years ago.

Corliss is expected to earn between $200,000 and $250,000 for the district's general fund by 2015, executive director of finance Jeff Mercer said.

Commercial groups who use the performing arts center are charged $300 per hour for rental and $35 per hour for any custodians needed. Churches and other nonprofit groups pay $150 per hour.

At the middle school, the costs are $200 or $100 per hour, depending on the use.

So far Franklin has eight groups scheduled to use the performing arts center this year, and most of them are dance companies. Corliss said dancers are the easiest to book because Franklin has the kind of venue they need.

"It's like, 'Hey, I need a facility,' 'Oh, we have a theater.' Boom, you book it," he said.

The money made through the performing arts center and middle school rentals goes to the district's general fund; $62,175 of it pays for Corliss' salary and benefits as well as performing arts supplies and marketing materials, Mercer said.

The rentals currently booked will bring in $106,804, but Corliss said he's in negotiations with other groups that will bring in additional money.

Franklin isn't the only Johnson County school that rents its buildings. Center Grove made $104,000 in rental and utility fees in 2010, including $40,000 paid by a church renting West Grove Elementary School.

Nineveh-Hensley-Jackson has fees in place to recoup utility and custodial from groups who want to rent buildings, but the district doesn't look to rentals as a moneymaker, Superintendent Matt Prusiecki said.

Mercer said the district would like to bring in $200,000 to $250,000 in annual rental fees by 2015. When that happens, the school district can begin earmarking the income for specific projects. Corliss' job is to meet the goal.

"My job here is not to cost the corporation money, it's to make the corporation money," he said.

Along with dance companies, Corliss is hoping to reach rental agreements with more churches in the area.

Journey Church has been using the auditorium, a classroom and a custodian at the middle school since 2009, and their contract with Franklin expires in August.

Corliss is looking into making sure the church stays and has talked with two other churches interested in renting as well.

Franklin has avoided having long-term contracts with churches holding Sunday services in the buildings, but Corliss said he plans to speak with Superintendent David Clendening about whether that will continue.

"I know that's been stated but we are going to have a meeting on the district's philosophy on that," Corliss said.

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  • Rental
    So not for profits get the tax subsidized center for less...seems like discrimination considering taxpayers built it.

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  1. to mention the rest of Molly's experience- she served as Communications Director for the Indianapolis Department of Public Works and also did communications for the state. She's incredibly qualified for this role and has a real love for Indianapolis and Indiana. Best of luck to her!

  2. Shall we not demand the same scrutiny for law schools, med schools, heaven forbid, business schools, etc.? How many law school grads are servers? How many business start ups fail and how many business grads get low paying jobs because there are so few high paying positions available? Why does our legislature continue to demean public schools and give taxpayer dollars to charters and private schools, ($171 million last year), rather than investing in our community schools? We are on a course of disaster regarding our public school attitudes unless we change our thinking in a short time.

  3. I agree with the other reader's comment about the chunky tomato soup. I found myself wanting a breadstick to dip into it. It tasted more like a marinara sauce; I couldn't eat it as a soup. In general, I liked the place... but doubt that I'll frequent it once the novelty wears off.

  4. The Indiana toll road used to have some of the cleanest bathrooms you could find on the road. After the lease they went downhill quickly. While not the grossest you'll see, they hover a bit below average. Am not sure if this is indicative of the entire deal or merely a portion of it. But the goals of anyone taking over the lease will always be at odds. The fewer repairs they make, the more money they earn since they have a virtual monopoly on travel from Cleveland to Chicago. So they only comply to satisfy the rules. It's hard to hand public works over to private enterprise. The incentives are misaligned. In true competition, you'd have multiple roads, each build by different companies motivated to make theirs more attractive. Working to attract customers is very different than working to maximize profit on people who have no choice but to choose your road. Of course, we all know two roads would be even more ridiculous.

  5. The State is in a perfect position. The consortium overpaid for leasing the toll road. Good for the State. The money they paid is being used across the State to upgrade roads and bridges and employ people at at time most of the country is scrambling to fund basic repairs. Good for the State. Indiana taxpayers are no longer subsidizing the toll roads to the tune of millions a year as we had for the last 20 years because the legislature did not have the guts to raise tolls. Good for the State. If the consortium fails, they either find another operator, acceptable to the State, to buy them out or the road gets turned back over to the State and we keep the Billions. Good for the State. Pat Bauer is no longer the Majority or Minority Leader of the House. Good for the State. Anyway you look at this, the State received billions of dollars for an assett the taxpayers were subsidizing, the State does not have to pay to maintain the road for 70 years. I am having trouble seeing the downside.

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