AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – The Austintown Community Fitness Center is changing its membership rules, causing some controversy between community members and the school board.
Starting Sept. 1, the fitness center will only be available to students and staff of the school district.
Twenty years ago, the fitness center was opened up to the community, and there still aren’t background checks for anyone who uses it.
Even though there’s never been a safety issue, the school board doesn’t want there to be one now.
The school board has discussed ways to have a schedule for the community, sports teams and physical education during the day. But, with the volume of students using the facility, there’s not a lot of time it’s even empty.
Some community members are angry they won’t be able to use the fitness center anymore.
“I don’t understand it. You know, you can walk away from a football game and you know it’s kinda dark and it’s gonna be… hundreds of kids walking away to their cars. So, I think there’s more to it,” said Gary Scurti, who works out at the fitness center.
So, the school board explained why.
“There’s a little misconception out there that we’re doing this from a financial piece of 109 members. It’s not about… it’s not a big revenue generator for the district, it’s about child safety. And now with several hundred kids a week going through there with our grant-funded strength conditioning coordinator, we just didn’t feel comfortable — under advisement through the board and from some law enforcement counsel — to not have residents co-mingle with students,” said Don Sherwood, school board president.
The district says all current prepaid members will be reimbursed on a prorated basis.