Frequently Asked Questions
What is shared use?
“Shared use” occurs when government entities (in this case, public schools) agree to open or broaden access to their property and/or facilities, such as recreational activities, for community use. In D.C., these formal “shared use” agreements are called “facility use” agreements. Shared use is also referred to as “community use” and “joint use” by different agencies.
Why should we support shared use?
Shared use is seen as a promising strategy to promote physical activity and prevent obesity across the country. In addition, shared use has been recommended by leading public health authorities, including such as the White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity, the National Physical Activity Plan, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Office of the Surgeon General, and Institute of Medicine. These organizations recommend sharing existing school and community recreational facilities to promote opportunities for physical activity.
The research is clear: the more active children are, the healthier they will be now and when they grow up. Yet certain places make physical activity harder instead of easier. Place matters, and experts know that where we live, work and play — the physical environment itself — determines, to a large degree, whether we will be healthy.
Many communities, especially those with populations at high risk for obesity, lack recreational facilities. Schools are often centrally located within a community and have gymnasiums, sports fields, courts, tracks, and other facilities that could provide opportunities for residents to be active if they were available. The shared use of existing school sport and recreational facilities can be a cost-effective way to promote physical activity among residents of all ages.
How does it work?
Legal contracts, commonly referred to as shared use agreements, or in D.C. as facility use agreements, set the terms for sharing sport and recreational facilities or programs to create opportunities for community members to be physically active. These use agreements, for example, can provide opportunities for a local youth sports league or neighborhood walking club to use school fields in the afternoons or on weekends. These agreements outline the specific activities and facilities an organization or individual will be permitted to use, as well as the insurance requirements and associated fees to cover maintenance and staffing costs.
Has this been successful in any other cities?
There are several areas that have found great success in community shared use agreements. They include:
• New York City, NY used shared use agreements to launch the “Schoolyards to Playgrounds Initiative,” which opened more than 200 school playgrounds citywide for use outside of school hours.
• In 1959, the City of Edmonton, Edmonton Catholic Schools, and Edmonton Public Schools (Alberta, Canada) entered a shared use agreement to optimize use of publicly funded facilities. This agreement is still in place today.
• Mecklenburg County and the City of Charlotte, NC organized a Joint Use Task Force consisting of 2 dozen agencies to provide a more comprehensive and coordinated picture of the needs of the community... and to recognize the inter-relatedness of ... categories of infrastructure investments.”
• In 2004, the city of St Petersburg, FL discovered through GIS mapping that the city did not offer many residents easy access to playgrounds. They found that elementary schools were located in all areas that playgrounds were missing, and through an incentive called “Play ’N’ Close to Home” created shared use agreements that allowed the city to take over maintenance of many parks in exchange for public use of the land after school hours.
What is Active Kids, Healthy Community?
Active Kids, Healthy Community is a joint effort between Voices for Healthy Kids, an initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and American Heart Association, and Advocates for Better Children’s Diets, a D.C.-based non-profit group. The goal is to increase equity in access to shared use of school recreational facilities in all wards of the District of Columbia.
How many groups provide youth in DC with additional physical activity opportunities?
According to the Freedom of Information Act data for approved shared use agreements at DC Public Schools for June 2013-June 2015, there were about 26 individual organizations that were providing physical activities to children and youth outside of the school day.
How many groups provide adults with additional physical activity opportunities, usually through leagues?
Based on the FOIA data, there were five organizations that provided physical activities to adults outside of the school day.
What is the minimum cost associated with shared use agreements?
According to the DC Public School Guidelines for Use of School Facilities and Grounds, the Fee Schedule is as follows:
Gym or Auditorium -
children’s event: $ 70.00/day
adult’s event: $137.00/day
Field/Stadium for soccer or other vigorous sport - $95/hour and $5/hour for equipment rental
High School Baseball Field - $35/hour
Custodial overtime - $30/hour varies (actual costs will be calculated on a per hour basis by the DGS Realty Office)
Security services fee - $36.62/hour/officer (must be there for entire event + 1 hour prior and 1 hour after but varies according to the contracted services
Where do payments for shared use go?
Payments by money orders or certified checks ONLY are made payable to the D.C. Treasurer. It is unclear whether the schools receive any of these funds through another method of recoupment.