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Lennox Little League, school district clash over new fees

January 9, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
After taking 22 years to win one district championship, Lennox Little League has won 11 titles in the last two years.

But just a month away from the start of the season, the league has had a financial curveball thrown at them. The Lennox School District is doubling the fees to use its fields.

"We're looking at $150 per day for three (fields), so it's $300 a weekend that we're there at the school," said league president Roberto Aguirre. "We feel it's just too much."

Lennox, only a square mile with little green space, is one of the poorest communities in the South Bay.

The little league even has payment plans available to help families with the $85 fee for their child to play.

"Some districts are charging $100 to $150 to use their fields, and we're very sensitive to that cost, because Lennox Little League has been a longtime partner," said Brian Johnson, the district's assistant superintendent of administrative services.

"I have other leagues that play on school property within the district - actually I have four. They have no fees. This is the only program that I have that the school decided to put fees on them," said Jerry Flory of District 37 Little League.

The Lennox School District says there were security concerns at the fields on weekends and the fee hike will pay for security.

"The district is going through major budget cuts. We can't subsidize security and take books away from kids," said Johnson.

Aguirre said it's a family atmosphere and that there have never been issues.

With gang violence prevalent in the area, the big concern is that the fee hike will mean kids will spend less time on the ball fields and more time on the streets.

"This has been one of roughest areas to live due to the bad temptations here," Aguirre said. "It's very important for our kids to have something to do after school."

"For them to charge us is not fair," said Jasmin Zamora, a parent and volunteer. "A lot of the parents aren't having it."

Both sides said they hope to find a solution and that it won't be game over for the Lennox Little Leaguers.