City, School District explore partnership

Goal is to increase efficiency and customer service

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Young soccer players hone their skills at the Portland Timbers Camas-Washougal Camp in the fields behind Doc Harris Stadium. The city of Camas Parks and Recreation department and Camas School District are exploring a partnership that includes fields sharing and scheduling.

How do we best serve the public?

The City of Camas Parks and Recreation Department and the Camas School District Community Education program are considering that question with the help of an advisory committee, which is exploring new partnership options for recreation services.

“We have excellent partnerships in the school and the city that did not come about by accident,” Mayor Scott Higgins said at a recent School Board meeting. “We are constantly looking for ways to make it even better. I felt there were some things parks and recreation were doing that community ed was also doing. Why not combine services?”

Last Monday, the committee presented its findings to the School Board.

Camas City Councilwoman and committee member Shannon Turk said the group is looking at having one website for people to view available recreation programs, facilities and fields rental.

“A lot of our parks are near school district facilities, and we could probably consolidate some activities,” she said. “Right now, people who want to use the fields have no idea who to call.

“Basically, we’d like to look into a single service of registering for fields and having usage fees be consistent. It would be one stop shopping.”

Current facilities and fields available in Camas include the following:

o Five elementary schools and three fields

o Two middle schools and four fields

o Two high schools and 10 fields, including Doc Harris Stadium

o District Administration building and two fields

o Five youth baseball/softball fields

o One Babe Ruth baseball field

o One adult softball field

o Three large soccer fields

o Six multi-sport open areas

o Community Center

o Scout Hall

Currently, the School District schedules all school fields and facilities use, and Parks and Recreation schedules adult softball fields only. Clubs schedule city fields based on their season and need.

Recommendations from the committee include coordinating field scheduling and fee policies, identifying which city fields will remain unscheduled and available for public use, determining a single source for scheduling and identifying potential “relief” practice fields that could be developed in partnership with local clubs.

The committee is recommending developing a joint board for an intergovernmental services agreement and evaluating partnership options.

“We think there are some opportunities to be had here,” Higgins said. “We’re looking for what is best for our community. We do interlocal agreements all the time.

“It can be done. I just think this is a special and unique community, and I want to find and create a way where we’re better than everyone else in providing services.”

School District Superintendent Mike Nerland called it a “great partnership.”

“The city has been a great partner with the school district and I think we’re all optimistic that we’ll be back in September with some great suggestions,” he said.

The committee will give final recommendations to the School Board and City Council in September.