On Friday, Wharton Independent School District (WISD) issued a press release describing the agreement provisions approved by board trustees at Tuesday night’s meeting.
The County Gin sat down with Wharton Babe Ruth President Grady Smith just moments before WISD issued the release.
“I have yet to be contacted by (WISD),” Smith said. “I am still disappointed that I am not privy to the agreement or at least a courtesy call before it’s released to everyone.”
Smith could not speak to whether the league would accept the presented agreement or not, noting, “We will have to see what our board says.”
WISD Superintendent Dr. Michael O’Guin Sr. did speak to the leagues community involvement, saying,”Babe Ruth provides a valuable benefit to our children.”
He continued, “WISD is committed to doing everything we can to support Babe Ruth and continue the land use partnership while ensuring that the District complies with rules governing the use of government owned property.”
Below is the press release, highlighting the provisions to the agreement:
At its February 23, 2021 Board of Trustees meeting, Wharton ISD approved a new Facilities Use Agreement with the Wharton Babe Ruth League.
For years, Babe Ruth has used the Wharton ISD fields for $10 per year under a prior version of an agreement.
As a governmental entity, Wharton ISD is subject to restrictions in the Texas Constitution that prohibit private uses of its public property for less than market value unless the arrangement serves a public purpose and provides a reciprocal benefit to the school district.
To align with Wharton ISD Board policy and the mandates of Texas law governing the use of public property for advertising purposes that benefit private companies, the Board included the following provisions in the new agreement:
• Wharton ISD will waive advertising fees for the 2021 season and will consider a separate agreement with Babe Ruth to allow temporary signage at the field that may only be displayed during the Babe Ruth season. The agreement must comply with the District’s advertising policy.
• Babe Ruth will be required to obtain 501(c)(3) status by December 31, 2021 and have at least 50% Wharton ISD student participation to qualify as a “non-paying user” under the District’s Facilities Management Guidelines.
• Subletting of concession stands is not permitted.
The new version of the agreement ensures that the youth community WISD and Babe Ruth jointly serve can continue to benefit from the partnership, within the bounds of the law.