Source: Sherman Publications

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School board discusses district fee increases

by Trevor Keiser

May 02, 2012

Increase in fees to participate in school sports could become a reality as of the April 25 school board meeting.

Assistant Superintendent of Business and Finance John Fitzgerald said the bulk changes were done by a "benchmarking with peer districts."

High School Library "per day fines" increased from five cents to 10 cents. The high school dance teams pay to participate (also known as "pay to play") went from zero to $280, due to the inability to meet expenses through fund raising efforts. Pay to play at the middle schools increased $30 from $200 to offset increased official fees and equipment costs. Other increases included the Natatorium (pool) and facility rental fees. However the "gap fee," which allows students to participate in multiple activities with one fee went down from $50 to $20.

Trustee Melissa Miller was concerned about the increase at the middle schools for pay to play.

"I just have experienced a lot of families in the community that both the gap fee and pay to play have really caused issues with," she said. "We all know the economy was not what it was."

Miller asked what increasing the fee $30 would net, so they can decide if it's worth it. Fitzgerald said at the middle school level there are approximately 900 participants in the fee program, which is roughly $27,000 in additional revenue.

"In reality it will be a number less than that, there are some protocols in place with respect to reduced cost capability for families in the district dependent on their current economic circumstance," he said. "There is a possibility of being reduced down to $50 or $75 as well. It won't ever really reach $27,000 it will be just over $20,000 level."

Fitzgerald also said he understands the economic circumstance and "holds no real strong position" on the increased fee.

"If it pleases the board I would hold that off for a look at next year or we can move forward," he added.

Secretary Deborah Porter also struggled with the increase at the middle schools and said it was already "cost prohibitive to some families" and would like to see what else they can do.

"I think we need to do whatever we can to make it less prohibitive because these people need something to do after school and a place to go," she said. "Also the health concern we have in general with obesity in this country and diabetes I think we need to give everyone the opportunity to participate at all costs if we can."

Miller asked if they could see a list of sports that are and are not pay to play before they make decisions.