Lancaster County nonprofit worries about extra fees


ELIZABETHTOWN, Pa. (WHTM) — More than 200 families who use the Greater Elizabethtown Area Recreation and Community Services (GEARS) before and after school daycare service in the school district have seen a 3% increase in their bills since the start of the year.

GEARS administrators say they had to pass along the cost after getting a bill from the district.

“We personally don’t like the fee,” GEARS vice president Howard Kroesen said.

For the past 20 years, the district allowed GEARS to use their five elementary schools for the before and after school daycare for free.

That changed at the end of 2019 when a contract between GEARS and Elizabethtown Area School District expired and the school says more budget demands meant they needed to recoup costs like overtime for custodians and groundskeeping.

“Our buildings open up at 7:30 a.m. and their daycare program starts at 6 a.m.,” Troy Portser, Director of School and Community Information said. “Our costs are 180 days a year.”

Now the district is considering charging GEARS and other organizations whenever they use the school district facilities and grounds.

“Our responsibility as a school district is to fund the education of our kids and our programs,” Portser said. “It’s best practice in all of Pennsylvania for municipalities to fund recreational programs.”

Kroesen said any additional costs could hurt families.

“How many additional fees?” Kroesen questioned. “Because all of this is going to affect the community as a whole.”

GEARS and the district will discuss fees during a meeting in March.

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