Guidelines for Use of School Buildings

Permit Guidelines

General Hours of Operation: School facilities are available for use on weekdays between the hours of 6:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. and on the weekends between 7:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m.

Use of a school facility will be approved only within the limits prescribed in the Constitutions, General Laws of Massachusetts and the City of Somerville ordinances, and to organizations with an existing relationship with the School Department and/or headquarters or branches located within the City of Somerville. See, for example, the following portion of General Laws Chapter 71, Section 71: “For the purpose of promoting the usefulness of public school property, the School Committee of any town may conduct such educational and recreational activities in or upon school property under its control, and, subject to such regulations as it may establish, and consistently and without interference with the use of the premises for school purposes, shall allow the use thereof by individuals and associations for such educational, recreational, social, civic, philanthropic and like purposes as it deems for the interest of the community.” The affiliation of an individual or association with a religious organization does not disqualify such individual or association from using school property for a permitted purpose. Use of school property to conduct religious services is not a permitted use. School buildings will not be rented to outside businesses or individuals for private use to promote said business or for private parties for individuals.

Groups wishing to use a school building during the aforementioned hours of operation must complete the online permit application at least two weeks in advance of the program date, or earlier, if School Committee approval is required. See

  • Permits are not transferrable. Notice of a change to the permit hours or location must occur within 48 hours of the event and can only be done with notice from the organization that applied for the original permit. A new permit must be issued if a different organization will be using the space.
  • The approved permit from the School Department Finance Office must be presented to the building custodian before entering the buildings.
  • The School Committee reserves the right to reject any application if, in its judgment, the event is not suitable to be held in a school building.
  • School and city events take precedence over all other events. Should a school or city event need to be scheduled on a specific date there is a chance that your event might be cancelled or relocated. You may either reschedule or cancel your event.

The Somerville High School gym is an educational facility constructed to support the needs of the students enrolled in academic and athletic programs at the school. All other uses, regardless of the sponsor, are secondary to these educational needs. The gym can only be used for a community purpose after all other school facilities are fully utilized. The intent is to schedule events into the smaller neighborhood facilities before any event is scheduled at the SHS gym. 

The only activities to be scheduled in the SHS gym are:

  • Programs presented by, or in support of, the Somerville Public School system and its educational and athletic programs.
  • Public recreation programs sponsored by the Somerville Recreation Commission.
  • Special programs in service to the community approved by special permit of the Somerville School Committee. These may include programs sponsored by nonprofit community organizations providing programs that are open to all residents of the city. These events will be scheduled into available hours and not permanently assigned.
  • Programs provided by any “for-profit” organization are specifically excluded from use of the SHS gym, as are programs sponsored by nonprofit organizations that are intended to raise money to support any program of the sponsoring organization.
  • At this time, only school athletic programs will be scheduled in the SHS gym.

The auditoriums located at the East Somerville Community School and Somerville High School are available for use on a restricted basis. Internal programming will take precedence over requests from outside organizations. The East Somerville auditorium is a full size performance stage and it has a seating capacity of 350. The SHS auditorium is a dimensional full size theatrical stage with a total seating capacity of 700 (divided into two spaces). Use of the sound equipment in both auditoriums must be arranged through the approval process of the permitting.

General Use

An officer or recognized leader of such groups must file the application. Thereafter, that officer or leader assumes the responsibility for the group while using the facility. Such responsibility includes:

  • Checking with the building custodian upon entering and leaving the building.
  • The proper conduct of the group.
  • Cleanup of refreshments and area(s) used.
  • Cost and repair of any damaged property caused by the group or any group member.
  • Informing the group of fire drill procedures.
  • Orderly entrance and exit of the group from premises.
  • Periodic check of lavatory facilities, if used.

Meetings in the evening other than for school purposes shall not be open to children under 18 years of age unless supervised by adults at a ratio of 10 youngsters to 1 adult.

No smoking or alcohol (MGLc272, Sec.40A) shall be allowed in any school building under any circumstances, nor shall candy or refreshments of any kind be sold in or about the halls without permission. Absolutely no food or beverages shall be allowed in gymnasium areas. Food and beverages shall be allowed only in cafeteria or designated areas, as noted on permit.

Set up of tables and chairs is available by request.


Please see the “Rate Schedule" section” below for the cost of custodial services. Internal applicants must assume the cost of custodial services during the days and hours that buildings are not staffed with a regular custodial or building supervisor and when there is a gathering of more than 50 people and/or with food being served. Additional fees apply for school kitchen use.

The applicant group must assume the cost of SPS kitchen staff, if kitchen use is requested.

Use of the sound system at the East Somerville and SHS auditoriums will require approval during the permitting process. The applicant group must assume any fees associated with staff hired to operate the system.

An event may require the attendance of one or more police officers due to the size of the event. This expense will be paid by the applicant directly to the Police Department.

Liability insurance in the amount of $300,000 - $1,000,000 may be required. This must be presented prior to occupancy.

Any damages caused by a group beyond normal use will be charged to the group. Failure to pay such damages will be reason to deny any further request from the group to use school property.


All payments must be made prior to the event. Payment must be made by check or money order; no cash or credit card payments are accepted and checks should be made out the “City of Somerville.” Non-sufficient returned checks are subject to a $30.00 fee. Repeated submittal of non-sufficient returned checks forfeits an organization’s right to future rentals. Failure to pay fees in a timely fashion forfeits an organization’s right to future permits.


A building use permit will not be issued if the facility is deemed by the City of Somerville to be in unsuitable condition for any unforeseen reason. If school is cancelled due to snow on the day of the scheduled event or if there is a snow emergency in effect, the event will be cancelled. Snow emergency information will be posted on the Somerville Public Schools website ( or on the city’s website (

Cancellation by a permit holder must be done 48 hours prior to the scheduled event. Without proper cancellation notice, all fees will be due and an organization may forfeit the right to apply for future permits.

Rate Schedule

Custodial Rate: The cost for custodial services will be in accordance with the contractual rate contained in the existing custodial contract. This will be an hourly rate with a minimum of four hours on each permit. Beyond the initial four hours, it becomes an actual hourly rate for each continuing hour.

Please note that the following locations at each elementary school and the high school that display “School Use Only” are not available for use by the public:

Art Room, Conference Room, Classrooms, Music Room/Band Room, School Building.

Standard Rates for School Facilities are as follows:      

School Facility / User Fee

Dr. Albert F. Argenziano School at Lincoln Park (290 Washington St.)

  • Cafeteria / $50.00
  • Gym / $50.00
  • Library / $50.00

Benjamin G. Brown School (201 Willow Ave.)

  • This building is not available for evening or weekend event use by the public.

Michael E. Capuano Early Childhood Center (150 Glen St.)

  • Cafeteria / $50.00
  • Gym (school use only) / $50.00                                       

East Somerville Community School (50 Cross St.)

  • Cafeteria / $50.00
  • Gym (currently used for internal programming only) / $50.00
  • Auditorium (use of audio / visual equipment will be charged separately) / $100.00

Edgerly Education Center (8 Bonair St.)

  • This building is not available for evening or weekend event use by the public.

Arthur D. Healey School (5 Meacham St.)

  • Cafeteria / $50.00
  • Gym / $50.00
  • Library / $50.00

John F. Kennedy School (5 Cherry St.)

  • Cafeteria /  $50.00
  • Gym / $50.00
  • Library / $50.00
  • Pool – For information on class registration and events, please visit

Somerville High School (81 Highland Ave.)

  • Auditorium (school use only, seating capacity of 700)
  • Cafeteria (upper or lower) / $50.00
  • Culinary Arts Highlander Café (only available with prior authorization from the Director of the Culinary Arts Program)
  • Gym (school use only)
  • Highlander Forum (use of A/V must be arranged prior to event) / $50.00
  • Library / $50.00

West Somerville Neighborhood School (177 Powder House Blvd.)

  • Cafeteria / $50.00
  • Gym / $50.00