And then they charge them for it. To collect a measly $3.8 million for maintenance, the LAUSD is fixing to levy a fee on nonprofit organizations that want to use school facilities and fields. This proposal could have widespread ramifications on the city’s youth sports organizations at the very time when city leaders are talking about launching new activities to counter gangs. This fee could very possibly derail sports activities for poorer kids. While $3.8 million is barely a blip to the district’s $6.4 billion budget, it would cost the Northridge City Little League about $2,000 a week for the 12-week season. No doubt that cost will be passed on to players’ families. The argument is that the schools should charge what the city and other districts do. That might be a good argument if the district’s only mission were to raise money – but we would hope the district’s mission is much larger than that. ONCE upon a time, when LAUSD officials were trying to sell the people of Los Angeles on costly school building bonds, they spoke of the new schools as magical places where the community would come together and reconnect. These newly built campuses around the city and region would not just be houses of education, they would be community centers where all manner of activities beneficial would occur. It was a good tactic, and the people of Los Angeles bought it time and again, willingly accepting a $15 billion burden to create these pillars of the community and education. Now that the money is in the bank and those construction projects are far along, the truth of that promise is wearing thin. Los Angeles Unified School District officials clearly still see the campuses as theirs, and only grudgingly allow the community in which they reside to use them. Not only does this pay-to-play proposal fly in the face of the prevailing collective desire to create more activities to keep kids off the city’s streets, it’s also factually wrong. The people have already paid for these fields and their upkeep. They own them – not the bureaucrats running the Los Angeles Unified School District. The public’s taxes are supposed to provide enough money to maintain the schools. Or at least they should. Unfortunately, the bureaucracy so often chooses to spend funds on more bureaucracy and fewer things that benefit kids. If it really needs the cash, perhaps it would make more sense to ask the city to divert some of the millions it already spends on anti-gang programs that don’t work. If the LAUSD follows through with this pay-to-play plan for community sports groups, it will show more than anything that the district has lost sight of its responsibility to the children and the community. And if it’s lost that, than how can the public trust anything it does?160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!