State law encourages and/or incentivizes the community use of school buildings and property for recreation or other purposes.
Best Practices Tool Kit for Shared Use Agreements in Mississippi
This tool kit provides assistance to schools, districts, and communities wanting to enter into shared use agreements to make school facilities available to the community and community facilities available to schools.
Mississippi Code 1972 37-171-1. Legislative findings and intent.
(2) Therefore, the Legislature declares that the intent of this chapter is to make school property available to community members during nonschool hours for recreational activities in order to support active living, reduce obesity, reduce health care costs associated with obesity, increase community safety, maximize community resources, and promote community support for schools.
Mississippi Code 1972 37-171-3. Definitions.
As used in this chapter, the following words and phrases have the meanings ascribed in this section unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:
- (a) “Recreation” means any indoor or outdoor game or activity, either organized or unorganized, undertaken for exercise, relaxation, diversion, sport or pleasure.
- (b) “School property” means all indoor or outdoor structures, facilities and land, whether owned, rented or leased by the school or school district.
- (c) “Sport” means an activity requiring physical exertion and skill and which, by its nature and organization, is competitive and generally accepted as being a sport.
- (d) “Shared use agreement” means a legal agreement that defines the rights and responsibilities of the school district and another organization or governmental agency for use of the school facilities for recreation or other purpose of importance to the community.
- (e) “Local government entity” means any county, municipality, school district, public hospital or other political subdivision of the state.
Mississippi Code 1972 37-171-5. Use of school property during nonschool hours by public for recreation or sports authorized; liability.
(1) The school board of a school district may adopt a policy allowing the public use of indoor or outdoor school property during nonschool hours for purposes of recreation or sport. The school district must ensure that this use of school facilities by the public does not interfere with the use of those facilities for school purposes.
(2) School districts and school district employees may not be held liable for any claim resulting from a loss or injury arising from the use of indoor or outdoor school property or facilities made available for public recreation or sport. However, this chapter does not relieve a school district or school district employee of liability that otherwise exists for:
- (a) Deliberate, willful or malicious injury to persons or property by a school district employee; or
- (b) Injury resulting from a lack of proper maintenance or upkeep of a piece of equipment or facilities, unless the school district or school district employee had attempted to restrict access to a piece of equipment or facilities area in need of repair which would endanger a student during normal school hours.
This subsection may not be deemed to create or increase the liability of any person.
Mississippi Code 1972 37-171-7. Shared use agreements with community organizations and local governmental agencies.
(1) School districts are encouraged strongly to enter into shared use agreements with community organizations and local governmental agencies.
(2) Local government entities are expressly authorized to enter into such shared use agreements and/or expend public funds and/or to use public labor and/or equipment and/or commodities in furtherance of the purpose of such agreements.
(3) The State Department of Education, in consultation with the State Department of Health, shall develop a best practices tool kit relating to shared use agreements for school districts. This tool kit must include:
- (a) Information outlining liability protections for both the school district and school district employees for injuries resulting from community use of school property or facilities for purposes of recreation or sport during nonschool hours;
- (b) Model shared use agreement language;
- (c) A list of technical assistance resources available for the school district to promote community recreational use of school property or facilities during nonschool hours;
- (d) A list of potential community partners for shared use agreements; and
- (e) A list of any grants or funding opportunities available to school districts to promote community recreational use of school property or facilities during nonschool hours.
The tool kit must be posted on the State Department of Education and State Department of Health websites. The State Department of Education shall review the information required by this section no less than every two (2) years and shall update the information as necessary.
(4) The State Department of Education shall provide a link on the department’s website to any school district policies or procedures that promote community recreational use of school property or facilities in order to encourage information sharing among the school districts.
(5) Each school district, in consultation with the school health council, must address community recreational use of school property or facilities during nonschool hours.