Community Use of Public Facilities Newsletter: August 13, 2018

August 13, 2018  |  Community Use of Public Facilities Newsletter

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After-Hours Problem Line: 240-490-CUPF (2873)

ICB-CUPF Turns 40: Looking Upstream with Many to Thank

Ginny Gong Award

One summer evening in 1978, the then County Executive, James Gleason, held a public meeting to discuss a report submitted to his office by the Community and Education Services Task Force that the County Council had created a year earlier, and which was charged to provide a “plan of action for coordinating the use of schools.” Up until that time, the use of schools’ facilities had aroused much disagreement among community groups and schools’ officials.  The taskforce had made 43 recommendations to Mr. Gleason to create a path forward for fair and equitable access to use schools during non-academic hours. The first recommendation was to create an Interagency Policy Board with representatives from the County Executive, the County Council, the Board of Education, MCPS, the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission, the Montgomery College, and four citizens.  The ICB (Interagency Coordinating Board) provides fiscal and policy guidelines to CUPF. The second recommendation of the taskforce was implemented by late summer of 1978 with the hiring of Dr. Gail Ayers to serve as the first Director of the Office of Community Use of Schools (CUS).  
All things being equal, the agency’s first two decades, 1978-1998, which predated the information age, was marked by some “battles”, said Dr. Henry Lee, Vice Chair of the ICB.  Back then, everything was done manually: from booking rooms for events to processing payments, refunds, cancellations, bookkeeping, etc.  Oh, the good old days!  But the next two decades, 1998-2018, the agency took an unprecedented expansion spearheaded by its second director, MS. Ginny Gong. She was the long-term President of the National Chinese American Association.  Ginny, who had come from the county’s public-school system, would admit that that helped. Among the notable achievements under Ginny were office automation, staff increase, and the agency’s name change from CUS to CUPF (Community Use of Public Facilities) because of the addition of county government buildings and libraries to the existing inventory of public schools’ facilities.  After twenty years at the helm of CUPF, in June 2018, Ginny would retire. On June 10, 2018 CUPF staff welcomed the agency’s third director and first African-American, Ramona Bell-Pearson. The 59-year-old Ramona has held multiple positions with the county that included County Attorney, MCPD staff Attorney, Assistant Chief Administrative Officer.  She is thinking downstream about information and data management, staff empowerment and advancement through training opportunities, the broadening of the range of users, and managing our public image.
So, as we celebrate our 40th year, we invite you to read the important deadlines and announcements printed below. We also share the reflections of the Chair of the Interagency Coordinating Board (ICB-CUPF), Dr. Clint C. Wilson II, followed by the Director’s message.   

August 15: Opening Day for Indoor School Reservations

Starting on Wednesday, August 15, at 8:30 a.m., CUPF will accept online reservation requests for use of indoor public-school facilities for the 2018-2019 school year. This includes before-and after-school enrichment programs, evening use, weekend use, etc., regardless of room type. To submit a request, please use the customer e-portal at:  For more information, visit:

Please remember if you are making a reservation on behalf of an organization, an account for the organization must be created, listing you as a representative.  If the organization already has an account and you wish to be listed as a representative, please send us an email at:  so we may add you.  If the organization account does not exist, or you are not sure, also send us an email with information about the account to include address, main phone number and whether or not it’s a not-for-profit.


August 15: Closing Day for PTA/ PTSA Priority Scheduling

PTA/ PTSAs have priority of use of school facilities, provided they submit their requests for the entire school year by August 15 of each year. The annual PTA/ PTSA information packet is now available on our website. The packet includes critical information regarding PTA/ PTSA reservation requests, enabling priority placement. For more information, visit:

Attention Users: Reservation Times Must Begin and End on the Hour or Half-Hour

To maximize community use hours and expedite the reservation request process, CUPF management would like to remind user groups of our longstanding START and END time requirements for all activities. All community use hours requested at public facilities (indoor and outdoor) must begin and end on either the hour or half-hour. Any request for a permit with a START and END time other than on the hour or half-hour will be denied, and users will need to resubmit their reservation request, which may put some at risk of losing the initial time requested. While we have made exceptions in the past, we must enforce this process to maximize public space needed for the thousands of community groups requesting use of facilities.

For example: if a user submits a permit request with the start time of 6:05 and end time of 7:15, the request will be denied.  Using this scenario, the correct start may be either 6:00 or 6:30, an end at 7:00 or 7:30 with increments of half hour whichever best meets the needs of the group.

This requirement applies to indoor and outdoor use on weekdays after 5:00 p.m., all times on weekends, and all times on holidays. We thank you for your understanding and cooperation.


ICB Chair Reflects on CUPF’s 40 Years

Dr. Clint Wilson

The Chair of the Interagency Coordinating Board (ICB), Dr. Clint C. Wilson II, recently sat down with CUPF’s Communications and Outreach Coordinator, Rodrigue Vital, to share some insights and reflections on CUPF’s 40 years of existence.  A native of San Antonio TX, Dr. Wilson was raised in Los Angeles, CA.  He earned his B.A. degree (California State University, L.A.) and M.A. degree (University of Southern California) in journalism with a minor concentration in sociology. A professional journalist for 10 years, he worked for the Los Angeles Times, the Associated Press, and the Los Angeles Sentinel among others.

He completed his doctorate in higher education administration from the University of Southern California and has served on the faculties of Pepperdine University, California State University, Los Angeles and the University of Southern California before coming to Washington D.C. as associate dean and journalism department chair at Howard University’s School of Communications. Dr. Wilson has lectured at numerous colleges and universities in the U.S. and abroad at Oxford University. He has authored eight books including some that are required textbooks for journalism and mass communications students at more than 100 colleges and universities.  He retired from Howard University in 2015 where he now serves as Professor Emeritus of Journalism, and Communication, Culture and Media Studies. He has been a Montgomery County resident for more than 30 years. Here is an excerpt of the interview with Dr. Wilson.

Q:  Dr. Wilson, when, and what led you to serve on the ICB, how did you become involved?

A: In 2015, as I was nearing retirement from Howard University, a member of my college fraternity (Alpha Phi Alpha) informed me of a vacancy on the Interagency Coordinating Board and encouraged me to apply. During the interview with county officials I stressed my desire to serve on behalf of all constituencies in our increasingly multicultural community.  I believe working with ICB-CUPF is a chance to make a valuable contribution of service to our Montgomery County citizens.   

Q:  In its forty years history, what do you think describes best or explains ICB-CUPF’s value to our community? 

A: I have only been involved with CUPF for three years, but I have found it to be unique among county municipalities in the United States. It is a comprehensive agency that serves to meet the needs of residents desiring access to public facilities for recreation and various meeting spaces. It is a testament to the efficiency of the CUPF staff and administration that some Montgomery residents take availability of facilities for granted. It is often easy to forget that after-school hours or during summer hiatus the schools are closed and not only are the teachers and students gone, but so are most of the staff personnel who handle oversight, maintenance, security etc. CUPF must ensure these and other support needs are covered while public users occupy MCPS facilities. The coordination of granting access to these facilities for a nominal fee is both commendable and challenging.    

Q: What is the most challenging part of the job of the Board?

A: The Board is representative of the broad spectrum of community and public institutional interests.  It is comprised of dedicated people who clearly demonstrate their desire to serve Montgomery County residents. The board understands that individuals and groups have various expectations concerning use of the facilities.  However, they sometimes want exclusive use of facilities without understanding the complexities of competing applications within CUPF’s mission and objectives.  It reminds me of a trait I sometimes saw in my university students: when academic challenges became difficult for them they began to think of their professors as barriers to completing their degrees rather than facilitators helping all students reach their educational goals. The ICB-CUPF board and staff exist to facilitate the use of facilities and assure, to every possible extent, that there is fair and equitable access for all.


The Director’s Corner


Let me start by saying thank you to all who have worked to make Community Use of Public Facilities (CUPF) all that it is and all that it has the chance to become. For forty years our agency has worked to ensure that our Community is able to benefit from the public assets represented by the public facilities.  Among those who have worked the hardest are the members of the Interagency Coordinating Board (ICB).  We truly appreciate the dedication and efforts of the high level of stature each member represents as well as the high level of dedication and participation they have devoted to our Organization

Thank yous must go out to past Directors including our first Director, Gail Ayers, and our most recent Director, Ginny Gong. Gail got this agency started and Ginny molded us into what we are today.  Starting as Community Use of Schools (CUS) under Gail meant that our Communities had access to public schools while under Ginny, government facilities such as county office buildings and a grand civic building were added to the available facilities and we became known as (CUPF).

We value our collaborations and partnerships with Department of Recreation and Montgomery County Parks and the coordinated software that integrates our systems known as ActiveMontgomery.

As the newest and third Director of CUPF I bring my twenty plus years of experience as a County employee and look forward to leading our agency into the next phase. Our staff resources include 40 dedicated staff, some of whom are detailed from Montgomery Parks, MCPS, Recreation, and approximately 250 MCPS employees that work with CUPF staff to facilitate the use and upkeep of public schools by our Communities. 

Our agency is just getting started, and with the promises of an exciting future.  I hope you will come along for the ride.

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