The days of drastically inflated pay-to-participate fees were short-lived for Perkins Schools families.
About five months after implementing the policy, all five school board members agreed Tuesday to slice the district’s costly fees in half at a special meeting.
Students will now pay $365 for high school sports this year.
At a glance
Pay-to-participate fees approved Tuesday
• 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
The decision is effective for the entire school year, meaning any students who paid to play sports during the fall season will receive refunds or credit toward future activities.
“It was a difficult decision to set the fees where they were,” board member Terry Chapman said. “To turn around now and do this today is additionally a difficult decision for this board.”
The move came less than a week after board members agreed to abandon plans to pursue a building project, and they returned a portion of funds back into the district’s operating fund. In 2011 the board moved the operating funds, called “inside millage,” into a separate account used for building projects.
The move quickly depleted the district’s operating money, with voters rejecting multiple tax levy proposals to restore it.
One of the aftereffects: To keep the district’s athletic budget afloat, student pay-to-participate fees skyrocketed, with high schoolers paying as much as $730 per sport this school year.
The millage move will return about $1.4 million to the district’s operating fund each year, superintendent Jim Gunner said. The district will receive about half that amount in the current school year, with the first payment collected in February.
The district’s annual budget is about $21 million. Of that, the annual athletic budget is about $600,000.
“In terms of our total budget, this is a relatively small pool of money,” board president Matt Kosior said. “Our new five-year forecast will demonstrate we’ll be in need of a levy soon. We’re obviously not out of the woods at this point.”
Perkins Schools is currently updating its five-year financial forecast, which should be available in December, treasurer Lisa Crescimano said.
Additionally, once coaches submit their winter sports rosters, the district will notify each student about their potential refunds or balance of funds due, which Crescimano is currently calculating, she said.
Board members haven’t determined fee amounts for the upcoming school year.
About 20 people attended Tuesday’s meeting, with two questioning the specifics of fee prices and collections and one speaking in favor of the board’s decision.