School board may reconsider waiving fees for local film work - WECT, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

School board may reconsider waiving fees for local film work

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"Max Steel" has been utilizing the Hoggard High School campus for work. "Max Steel" has been utilizing the Hoggard High School campus for work.

Some members of the New Hanover County Board of Education want to revisit a policy in which the school system does not charge local film crews for use of facilities.

The question came up recently among school board members after crews set up at Hoggard High School to record scenes for a future feature called Max Steel.

Bill Hance, the Assistant Superintendent of Operations and Planning for New Hanover County Schools, informed board members that historically the school board has followed a state statute requiring state agencies to offer facilities at no charge, with the exception of reimbursement for any costs incurred. While local schools are not considered state agencies, New Hanover County has waived fees in the spirit of being community schools, which is encouraged under other statutes.

"Currently, the New Hanover County School system does not charge the film industry (which is a for-profit industry that receives significant tax incentives from the State) facility use fees," School Board Tammy Covil said in an emailed statement. "Since it has been determined that we are not legally bound by General Statute to waive these fees, I believe it is time for revision of Policy 4500 to include nominal charges for facility usage.  As tight as our budget has been over the last five years, it is incumbent upon us to look at ways in which we can generate additional revenue to help defray the cost of teacher salary supplements and professional development."

Fellow board member Lisa Estep has another idea. 

"The board as a whole needs to discuss how we are going to handle this," Estep said. "This has been a procedure that was requested of us from the state level to be accepting of the film industry, and of course we want to be. But I want to be sure that we're including other people too, other businesses that are important to us."

Estep said county schools should be inclusive to all businesses. She believes that if they waive the fees for the film industry, fees should also be waived for other businesses wanting to use school facilities. 

"What I want to make sure of is we want to be friendly to all businesses. Tax payers paid for all of the schools and the grounds so we want businesses to be able to come in and use our facilities," Estep said. "I want to make sure we're treating GE and Corning the same as we're treating the film industry."

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