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Pay-to-play refunds in the mail

Alissa Widman Neese • Dec 19, 2013 at 11:30 AM

Nearly 300 Perkins Schools families will ring in the new year a tad richer.

Parents receiving refunded student pay-to-participate fees should collect their checks by Jan. 1, district officials said Wednesday.

A notice will be posted to the Perkins Schools website when they’re mailed, possibly as early as next week, treasurer Lisa Crescimano said.

“We’re all plugging along,” Crescimano said.

Board members agreed in November to slice the district’s inflated pay-to-participate fees in half. Students will now pay $365 for high school sports this year, opposed to the $730 fee approved earlier this year.

The reduced fees are effective for the entire school year, which means any students who paid to play fall sports will likely receive refunds toward future activities.

A complicated, computerized process determined how much the district owed each student after the fee reduction.

The 282 student refunds range from $1 to $710, totaling about $45,400, Crescimano said.

If parents have questions about their child’s refund, they can arrange to meet with district officials to discuss it individually, superintendent Jim Gunner said.

“It was a complicated issue to figure out how much each student and family was entitled to, and took a lot longer than anticipated, but we’re confident the calculation was done properly,” Gunner said. “We’re willing to show parents the documents to back that up and go through the structure”

The reduced pay-to-participate fees are a direct effect of board members returning a portion of funds back into the district’s operating account. In 2011, the board moved the operating funds, called “inside millage,” into a separate account used for building projects.

Board members reviewed the district’s updated five-year financial forecast Wednesday, which now reflects the effects of the millage move.

Perkins Schools is now showing a $139,600 surplus in the current school year, with about $645,900 total in its cash reserve. Its reserve cash is projected to carry it through until the 2017-18 school year. Its annual budget is about $21 million.

Before the November move, the district was set to spend all its reserve cash by the end of the current school year, with just $23,500 remaining in its operating fund.

Despite the improved outlook, board members acknowledged the district’s long-term financial issues are far from resolved.

“This forecast reflects simply moving the millage back and still operating as we are today, with no restoration of any cuts we’ve made this year,” Gunner said.

Board members also discussed plans Wednesday to host a series of public meetings in January regarding a likely May levy attempt. They’ll likely announce the meeting dates later this week.

If approved, a levy could restore some of $2 million in detrimental cuts made earlier this year, Gunner said.

“We feel strongly that some of these cuts are significantly impacting education,” Gunner said. “As we start planning the next levy attempt, we need to discuss with the board what we should be restoring moving forward”

Board members concluded Wednesday’s meeting with a closed-door meeting to discuss district personnel. No board action followed.

The meeting was board member Brian Printy’s last, as he did not seek re-election in November. He was a board member for eight years. Voters elected Michael Ahner to replace Printy in January.

Reduced pay-to-participate fees

• High school athletics: $365

• High # school clubs: $50

• High # school band or choir: $110

• Middle # school athletics: $92

• Middle school clubs: $50

• High school dual enrollment classes: $150

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