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Fall sports enrollment OK despite fee hike

Alissa Widman Neese • Aug 21, 2013 at 4:18 PM

Documents to justify the latter two claims: not readily available, according to district officials.

Despite this year’s two failed tax levies, slew of district-wide cuts and hiked pay-toparticipate fees, Perkins Schools hasn’t seen a dramatic drop-off of fall athletes or incoming students, athletic director Mike Strohl and superintendent Jim Gunner said Tuesday. “We’re either at or up in every sport compared to last year,” Strohl said. “By no stretch of the imagination will this be healthy long term, but from what we see right now, we’re doing just fine and hanging in there. Parents are finding a way to make it happen.”

Perkins Schools officially implemented inflated pay-toparticipate fees Aug. 6, the day a majority of voters rejected the district’s 10-year, 6.73-mill emergency operating levy proposal. The fees range from $730 per high school sport to $100 per high school or middle school club.

The Register emailed Strohl and Gunner on Friday, asking for enrollment data to illustrate pay-to-participate’s impact on fall extracurricular activities, specifically athletics. When they spoke to the Register on Tuesday, the pair said the information won’t be available until September, although almost all sports have already started their seasons.

The Register emailed a public records request to treasurer Lisa Crescimano on Tuesday evening, requesting district-wide enrollment numbers for the past five years, all fall sports rosters and other documents.

According to Strohl and Gunner, nothing contained within the documents will be particularly surprising.

“Most schools that have implemented pay-to-participate fees have shared with us exactly what we’re experiencing — in the first year, parents figure it out, so there isn’t any sign of loss in year one,” Gunner said. “If it continues in the long term, then it starts to have an impact.”

Pay-to-participate fees for athletes will cover transportation fees and coach and adviser salaries. They will also cover athletic director Mike Strohl’s salary and benefits, about $109,000, and athletic secretary Linda Bixler’s salary and benefits, about $27,000.

The district calculated the cost of the fees by adding the total cost of each sport and dividing by the total number of athletes participating in district sports in the past school year, according to data the Register obtained from Crescimano. The fees were calculated in the same way for clubs and music activities, including band and choir.

Fall athletes must pay all their participation fees by Nov. 6, the day after the district’s levy election.

If a majority of voters approve the November levy — identical to the levy they rejected earlier this month — all fees paid up to that point will be refunded. Pay-toparticipate fees will return to $35 for high school sports and $25 for middle school sports. Students participating in band and choir will no longer pay fees.

Perkins Schools pay-to-participate fees

$730 per high school sport

$220 per high school music participation (band or choir)

$185 per middle school sport

$100 per high school or middle school club

Note: The initial club fee approved in June was $150, but board members took action at a special meeting in July to fix a calculation error, which misclassified Ohio Model United Nations as a sport instead of a club and inflated the cost.

Pick up a copy of the Register all this week for more stories on Perkins Schools, including fundraising and private donors offsetting pay-to-participate fee costs.

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