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School operations

Community Use of Schools — Hiring, Licensing and Community Joint Use Agreements

For information on community use of schools during COVID-19 refer to the School operations guide (login required)

Policy

The purpose of this policy is to explain the different types of agreements available to facilitate community use of school facilities, and outline what schools must do to access these.

Summary

  • There are 3 types of agreements covered in this policy including:
    • hire agreements — school councils can enter into these for occasional or one off hire of school facilities
    • licence agreements — school councils can enter into these for regular use of school facilities
    • community joint use agreements (CJUAs) — typically CJUAs are entered into when a facility is to be constructed/extended and the use is on an ongoing long term basis. The Department must authorise the construction of such facilities on school land and the Minister for Education (or delegate) is required to sign CJUAs
  • Under the Education and Training Reform Act 2006 (Vic) (the Act), school councils have the power to enter into agreements with third parties for the use of school facilities when they are not required for ordinary school purposes. The proposed use must be for the purpose of educational, recreational, sporting or cultural activities for students, the local community or young persons. Any other purpose requires the Minister’s approval.
  • School councils must use the Department’s school council templates for hire, licensing and community joint use agreements with third parties (login required).
  • Templates for licensing arrangements are available for specific purposes such as Market Operators, Community Gardens and pre-schools (login required). 
  • Fees paid by third parties to school councils for the use of school facilities should:
    • allow schools to recover additional maintenance and operational costs (e.g. for electricity, water, cleaning, insurance, maintenance), and lifecycle costs proportional to each party’s use of the facility; and
    • not be set higher than required for cost recovery.
  • This policy falls within the 'Manage' stage of the School Asset Lifecycle.
  • For all proposed CJUA arrangements, schools must contact the Victorian School Building Authority (VSBA) of the Department on the contact details set out below.

Details

The Department encourages schools to join with local government and community organisations to explore sharing facilities, co-location opportunities, and developing and using school infrastructure to benefit the wider community’s learning and recreational needs.

The Department recommends that schools consult with key parties and consults with the VSBA and/or the Legal Division of the Department before signing any agreement with a third party for use of school facilities, particularly for ongoing arrangements that may impact the school community or neighbourhood.

Licence fees, or contributions for community use arrangements should:

  • allow schools to recover additional maintenance and operational costs (cleaning and utilities), and lifecycle costs proportional to each party’s use of the facility; and
  • not be set higher than required for cost recovery

The Department encourages schools to review ongoing arrangements as needed to ensure all parties are meeting their obligations.

Hire agreements

Under the Act, school councils have the power to hire out school facilities when they are not required for ordinary school purposes. These agreements must be for educational, recreational, sporting, or cultural activities for students, young people or the local community.

Hire agreements are suitable for occasional or one-off hire of school facilities. Examples include a local youth group hiring a school hall, or a theatre group wanting to stage a play over four nights.

To assist school councils to comply with legal requirements, the Department’s Legal Division has developed a Guide to School Council Hire Agreements and a School Council Hire Agreement template (login required).

Licence agreements

Under the Act, school councils have the power to license school facilities when they are not required for ordinary school purposes. These agreements must be for educational, recreational, sporting, or cultural activities for students, young people or the local community.

Licence agreements should be used for ongoing community use of school facilities by third parties. Examples include a local drama group using a school performing arts centre every Wednesday evening for a year, or a local football club hiring the school oval for a season.

School councils seeking to enter into licence agreements to place advertising on school sites should refer to Advertising.

To assist school councils to comply with legal requirements, the Department’s Legal Division has developed a Guide to School Council Licence (General) Agreements and a School Council Licence (General) Agreement template (login required).

Community Joint Use Agreements

Under the Act, school councils have the power to enter into a community joint use agreement (CJUA). CJUAs are suitable for constructing jointly-used community facilities such as stadiums, sporting grounds and theatres.

A suite of documents (login required) has been created as a practical resource to assist school councils and community partner on the journey from an initial joint use concept through to a legally binding CJUA which must be signed by all parties before they proceed to tender. 

  • Guide to Community Joint Use Agreements: This document is an overview of Community Joint Use Agreements, their key concepts and the processes to be followed to create them. This document is an initial reference for School Councils and Community Partners to read prior to entering into discussions about a proposed Community Joint Use Facility.
  • Community Joint Use Proposal: This document enables the parties to record all the information required to produce a Community Joint Use Agreement.  The parties will be required to select the options that suit their situation for the operation, maintenance and upkeep of the Facility. 
  • Instructions and Explanatory Notes for Completing a Community Joint use Proposal: These notes have been prepared to assist the parties when completing each section of the Proposal.
  • Community Joint Use Agreement Template: This document contains the legal clauses that will become the Community Joint Use Agreement.  The Agreement is comprised of the Core Clauses and Options Clauses. The Core Clauses form the standard terms and conditions for all Community Joint Use Agreements and are not negotiable. The Core Clauses are the ones with the headers shown in green; the Option Clauses are in blue.  The Option Clauses allow the parties to select the approach that best suits their specific situation and community under the joint use arrangements and address the operation, maintenance and upkeep of the facility.  All options clauses are contained in the template document; the Department will amend the Agreement based on the information provided in the Proposal.
  • Explanatory Table of Clauses: This document provides an explanation of the Core and Option Clauses, helping the parties to understand the content of and reason for the clauses contained in the Community Joint Use Agreement.

In order for a CJUA to be prepared, the school council and community partner must complete a Community Joint Use Proposal. Schools must consider possible issues and long-term costs when constructing a facility through a CJUA. Considerations may include, but are not limited to:

  • planning permits (if required for community use outside school hours)
  • capital, maintenance, utility and cleaning costs
  • financial viability of the facility
  • accessibility
  • health and safety
  • insurance and security

The Minister for Education (or delegate) is required to sign CJUAs and the Department is required to authorise the construction of facilities on school land.

School councils (assisted by the VSBA) are responsible for negotiating the ongoing management of CJUA facilities with the community partner.

For CJUAs that involve competition-grade sporting facilities, refer to the Department's advice on Competition Grade Sporting Facilities.

Leasing

A lease provides exclusive use for the holder of the lease and is therefore not an appropriate agreement for when facilities are shared. Under the Act, school councils do not have the power to enter into lease agreements involving land or buildings.

Only the Minister for Education (or delegate) can enter into a lease involving land or buildings. For example, Ministerial approval is required to grant a leasehold to construct a childcare facility on a school site.

This restriction on leasing does not apply to the leasing of school equipment.

Schools as polling places

The Victorian Electoral Commission and the Australian Electoral Commission may use schools as polling places during State and Federal elections. For more information, refer to the Department’s Elections — Schools as Polling Places Policy.

Definitions

Brief descriptions of the standard types of agreements:

Hire Agreement
Hire Agreement is used when the community uses a facility on a one-off basis, such as a youth group hiring a school hall for its annual presentation night.

Licence
Licence is used when the community uses a school facility on a regular basis such as a:

  • local drama group hiring out the school performing arts centre every Wednesday evening; or
  • local football club hiring the school oval for the season

Community Joint Use Agreement
Community Joint Use Agreement is a more detailed agreement which applies when a school and/or a third party contribute to the construction of a new building or upgrade of an existing facility; such as the construction of a new sports stadium at a school, funded by both the school and local council, to be used by the school and local community sporting groups.

Schools wanting to enter into this agreement must complete a community joint use proposal.

Relevant legislation

Further Contacts

Community Joint Use enquiries VSBA 
Email:  vsba.property@education.vic.gov.au
Phone: 1800 896 950

Legal Division DET
Email: legal.services@education.vic.gov.au
Phone: 03 9637 3146

Department policy on different types of agreements available to facilitate community use of school facilities

Reviewed 11 February 2021

Policy last updated

17 November 2020

Scope

  • Schools

Contact

Victorian School Building Authority There are additional contacts for this topic. Refer to the contacts heading in the body of the page.

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