TO: Members of the Press
FROM: Dr. Michael J. O’Guin, Sr., Wharton ISD Superintendent
RE: Press Release
DATE: February 26, 2021
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. “Babe Ruth provides a valuable benefit to our children,” said WISD Superintendent Dr. Michael O’Guin. “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.”