• Questions Regarding Proposed Activity Fee

    At the Programs and Services Committee Meeting held on February 7, 2012, the Board of School Directors and community members in attendance were asked to generate questions regarding the Activity Fee Proposal. The questions will be utilized by the special, "Ad Hoc" Committee which has been established to develop Activity Fee Procedures and Processes for Board and community review.
    Following the February 7, 2012 meeting, all of the questions raised were organized into categories for easier review by the community and the Ad Hoc Committee. Below are the list of Categories of the questions that were raised.

    Click on the Question Categories to view the specific questions.

    Questions Regarding the Revenues and Expenses Connected to the Activity Fee Proposal

    Questions Regarding Collection, Payments and Refunds of Activity Fee Dollars

    Questions Concerning Economically Disadvantaged Families

    Questions Regarding Other Options, Alternatives or Possibilities to the Activity Fee as Proposed

    Questions Regarding Payments that are already the Responsibility of Parents

    Questions Regarding Fund Raising

    Questions Which Could be Answered with Factual Answers (Not Opinions)

    Questions Regarding Communication

    Questions Regarding Ethical Considerations

    Miscellaneous Questions regarding Activity Fee-Associated Procedures or Operations

    Questions Regarding the Revenues and Expenses Connected to the Activity Fee Proposal
    • Are the activity fees associated with the proposal too high/too low?

    Based upon the analysis of the equipment and uniform needs of the district, the original fee structure presented was found to be insufficient to provide adequate funding.  The committee believes after the analysis - refer to spread sheets - there needs to be approximately $117,500  per year to fund the programs.  Out of that $117,500, the activity fee will need to generate an estimated $70,000 net (after a reduction for those participants that would be eligible for free and reduced lunch).

    • What will increases look like from year to year? How much can the committee decide to raise the fees each year? Is there a maximum of how much the committee can ask for each year?

    The adhoc committee was charged with determining and recommending to the School Board a fee that would adequately fund the equipment and longer distance travel requirements of specified co-curricular activities.  Changes from year to year (up or down) would be based on actual requirements.  There has not been a maximum fee determined by the adhoc committee or designated by the School District or School Board. 

    • If there is an activity fee agreed upon, will the district “charge back” administrative fees for the work of district employees?

    There will be NO administrative cost or fee taken out of the collected fees.

    • How will the committee communicate with the Board regarding whether or not there are sufficient funds for the work of the committee?

    The Business Manager (who will also be part of the committee) will be responsible for keeping the Board updated on the balances and expenditures.  This will be reported to both the Program and Services and Budget and Finance Committees.

    • Can a non-profit, charitable trust be set up to collect funds?

    A trust could be established if the community believed it would be beneficial.  It would operate similarly to the Music Patrons.

    • Should there be designated funds to include capital vs. inventory?

    All of the funds that are generated by the activity fee will be utilized for equipment (inventory) and longer distance travel expenditures.  Capital requirements would be assigned to the School District’s general fund.

    • If the activity fee is not approved and we are working with only base budget dollars, will the activity fee committee still make the decisions regarding the disbursement of funds?

    If the activity fee is not approved, there will not be a requirement for an Activity Fee Committee.

    • How can the community work to find discounts on uniforms and equipment (especially from sports connections in the community)?

    The School District currently uses a bid process to receive competitive bids on equipment, uniforms, etc.  It is important to realize that while some local businesses may be able to supply some items at a lower price, depending on the total value of the bid, the School District is required to follow state guidelines for obtaining bids.

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    Questions Regarding Collection, Payments and Refunds of Activity Fee Dollars
    • What should the collection process look like? What is the timeframe for paying?

    The Activity Fee must be paid when the medical forms are due prior to each season.  If the activity includes the process of tryouts and cuts, the payment is due before the first scheduled contest.  The details of the process will be included in the guidelines.

    • When will fees be collected?

    The fees will be collected prior to the start of the season and will be due with the medical forms.  Students will not be allowed to participate in practices, rehearsals, etc. (except in activities with tryouts and or cuts) until the medical forms are received and fees are paid.

    • How will fees be collected?

    The High School Athletic Secretary will be responsible for collecting payment and for Medical Forms to each season.

    • What happens if the student doesn’t pay their fee?

    The student would not be allowed to participate until their fee is paid.

    • To whom will the money go?

    The High School Athletic Secretary will be responsible for collecting payment and for Medical Forms to each season.

    • Who will handle the money?

    The High School Athletic Secretary will be responsible for collecting the payment and the District Business Office will be responsible for the administration and accounting of the funds.

    • If the child is hurt, quits, or is cut, what procedures are in place? Will there be refunds?

    Activity Fee refunds will be provided under the following circumstances:

    • The student suffers a season-ending injury or illness prior to the mid-point of the season for which the Activity Fee has been paid.
    • The injury or illness must prevent the athlete from participating in half or more of the regularly scheduled contests
    • A medical authorization letter must accompany all such requests.
    • A student and their family move out of the district. 
    • Refunds will be prorated based on the number of regularly scheduled contests remaining when the student moves away.
    • Requests for refunds must be made to the Athletic Department before the season’s midpoint.  Students that quit an activity any time during the activity season are not eligible for a refund.

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    Questions Concerning Economically Disadvantaged Families

    • What procedures or processes should be in place for students whose families cannot afford payment?

    Any student who does not have the ability to pay the Activity Fee should contact the building principal for assistance.  The building principals will have guidelines on how to deal with these situations.  The adhoc committee believes that all students should be required to pay some amount in order to participate.

    • Should free and reduced students pay something?

    The adhoc committee believes that all students should contribute some amount to be able to participate. 

    • What is the process so that the pride of the children and the family are not adversely impacted?

    The student or parents/guardians should contact the building principal to discuss their particular situation in confidence to avoid any embarrassment.

    Questions Regarding Other Options, Alternatives or Possibilities to the Activity Fee as Proposed
    • Who will determine if this is the “right proposal?” Are there other plans out there?

    The adhoc committee was charged in determining what the right proposal should be and then present it to the School Board for approval. 

    • Is one alternative proposal the cutting back on some of our sports programs, or reducing the levels at which the sports are offered?

    While cutting back or reducing the level of sports or activities may be considered viable by some, the adhoc committee did not consider these options.  It was the opinion of the adhoc committee to work on a proposal that would provide adequate funding to maintain our existing programs.

    • Are there any other suggestions regarding how the fee structure could work?

    The adhoc committee reviewed the funds that would be generated by the original fee proposal, a flat fee (same amount for each activity) and a tiered fee.  The committee determined that a tiered fee was the fairest to all participants and would generate the required funds to adequately fund the specified activities

    • If a fee is implemented, should it be a flat fee per participant, or should it be weighted based on the net expenses associated with that sport or activity? Should it be offset by revenue?

    It was determined by the adhoc committee that a tiered fee would be the most equitable for all participants.  Any revenue that is generated (ticket sales) should be utilized to offset the fees for all participants, not just those for that activity.  For example, ticket sales from a football game would not go to offset the expenses of only the football program, but would be used to help fund the entire athletic program.

    • I have two children in high school in the same sport. I feel that the money collected should stay specifically with that sport. Should separate accounts be created?

    The funds collected would not reside in an account for any one particular sport.  The Activity Fee will be collected and the Activity Committee will determine how to spend the collected funds based on the prioritized needs of all of the programs.

    • If a sport or activity is able to fund all of its equipment, uniform, and extended transportation costs (through fund raisers or revenue streams), could they be exempt from the program? What would happen to the fees associated with second or third activities in this situation?

    If a particular activity is able to generate funds through fundraising or other revenue streams, they would be able to utilize the funds to offset the Activity Fee for those participants.  The generated funds would not go towards reducing the fee required for another activity for that season.  Any surplus funds (monies generated in excess of the required fees), would go towards equipment needs, etc. in the following year.

    • Is there a minimum dollar amount that the committee would feel comfortable going to the community to say that we would delay for one year or another period of time the implementation of this committee? By when would this money need to be in hand?

    The adhoc committee has determined that a minimum of $70,000 (net after free and reduced lunch) would need to be generated.  If an outside source were to provide those funds to delay the implementation of the Activity Fee program, the School District would need to have those funds prior to the beginning of the Fall sports camps.  However, because the School District needs to communicate to the students and their parents the required fees for participation next year, we do not know if this is a viable option for this year.

    • Could the fee be less if athletes/band members were required to buy more of their own equipment/uniforms?

    The adhoc committee did not specifically address this question.  However, depending on the article of equipment, uniform, etc., the fee could be reduced.

    • If there are revenue streams developed to offset the cost of the participant fee, can these reduce the fees collected on a year-to-year basis?

    If there were other revenue streams that were developed and dedicated to offset the Activity Fee, it would have the potential to reduce the fees on a year to year basis.  It would be important for the participants to realize that their fees would change from year to year.

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    Questions Regarding Payments that are already the Responsibility of Parents
    • What happens to other spending on parents (e.g., Pride Packs, sneakers, cheerleading equipment)?

    Pride Packs, etc., are optional and would be at the discretion of the parent.  If sneakers are a required part of the students equipment (e.g., football cleats , swim suits), the parent or student would be required to pay for these.

    • All I am doing is writing checks. Will this fee take the place of other checks that I write, so that I don’t have to write all of the other checks plus this one?

    The Activity Fee is strictly for the equipment, uniforms and extended travel for the associated activity.  Any additional expenditure would be at the discretion of the parent or student.

    • What happens if a student is doing a club activity such as UM Ice Hockey? Does this take the place of one of the activities so that the first school activity is treated like a second activity (at the reduced rate)?

    Club activities are completely separate from the School District and would have no bearing on the level of fee that is required to be paid in order to participate in a School sponsored activity.

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    Questions Regarding Fund Raising
    • How will this impact the fundraising that is going on from activity to activity? Should there be guidelines developed for fundraising?

    The Activity Fee is completely separate from fundraising.  Fundraising can continue as it has in the past.  The Superintendent has developed guidelines for fundraising and the School Board is provided with all fundraising activities on a monthly basis during the Budget and Finance committee report.

    • If there are fundraising guidelines developed, will this impact how we are allowed to raise money or spend money as a separate organization? (Music Patrons)
    Fundraising guidelines have been in place and are implemented by the Superintendent.  As long as the guidelines are followed, individual groups can continue to participate in fundraising activities.
    • Should there be guidelines developed for fundraising by the teams? How will any guidelines improve accountability?

    Any guidelines that are developed by the teams should involve the coach, Athletic Director and comply with the guidelines implemented by the Superintendent.  The Superintendent’s guidelines have improved accountability.

    Questions Which Could be Answered with Factual Answers (Not Opinions)
    • What is the total cost to replace the uniforms and equipment for all of the activities?

    The adhoc committee has determined through an inventory analysis and cost analysis that there needs to be $117,552 generated per year in order to adequately fund the program.  This amount ($47,000 from District sources and $70,000 from Activity Fees) will not allow for the replacement of all equipment in year one of the fee, but will allow for the responsible and realistic budgeting of equipment and uniform purchases on a year to year basis.

    • Do we know if all coaches are charging students for uniforms that are not returned?

    Based on the feedback received by the adhoc Committee, the coaches are requiring the students to pay for uniforms or equipment that are not returned or not returned in good condition.

    • Do we know the extent to which each sport is charging athletes for out of pocket expenses?

    Depending on the activity, the athletes or musicians are required to pay for certain items. These items can be cleats, sneakers, swim suits/caps, baseball gloves, instruments, etc.  The committee does not have a break down by activity as to what the cost would be, but is aware that there are some activities that require a higher level of additional spending than others.

    • For each sport or activity, what items are currently the responsibility of each family to purchase (what does the School District not provide that the families must)?

    The adhoc committee did not do an activity by activity accounting of each sport to determine what additional items would need to be purchased by each family.  The committee"s goal was to determine what the funding level would be required to adequately provide for the replacement of School District supplied equipment and uniforms.

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    Questions Regarding Communication
    • Could the committee have a Facebook page?

    The Committee could have a page, however they would need to find someone to maintain it and make sure that the information posted was accurate.

    • How will the public receive information or provide input to the committee?

    The Committee will provide information to the community through the School District web site, email (ecommunicator), and coaches to the athletes, through the District cable television channel and through other appropriate venues.  There would be two (2) members of the public as part of the committee who would provide input, the community would also be able to provide input through email.

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    Questions Regarding Ethical Considerations
    • Will charging students and families for sports result in more students not playing, and result in increased student drug use among our community?

    While participation in School sponsored activities can have a positive impact on preventing drug, alcohol and tobacco use among students, there are other factors that also have an impact on prevention.  Participation in athletics or band does not prevent drug, alcohol and tobacco use.  This is a complex question with many possible answers and the adhoc committee believes it is the responsibility of the parent/guardian to make sure that their child has a healthy lifestyle free of substance abuse.

    • What about students who only play the sport “for fun?”

    Students, who only participate for fun, would still be encouraged to participate.  They would be responsible for the Activity Fee, just as those students who participate because of the competitive nature of the sport. 

    • How does this get structured in such a way so that it does not become an obstacle for children to become involved?

    While it is not the intention to create a fee that is an obstacle for participation, the implementation of a fee is required at this point to make sure that these activities are able to be offered for all students.

    • Is playing time connected to this plan? If I pay, is my child guaranteed more playing time?
    The paying of a fee does not guarantee playing time.  In no way is the fee designed to influence coaching decisions.
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    Miscellaneous Questions regarding Activity Fee-Associated Procedures or Operations

    • What should the process be for determining whether or not a group could make a lengthy trip?

    The group (e.g., coach, band leader)  would make the request to the committee for an extended length trip. The committee would review the request and the required funding and weigh it against what expenditures are required by other activities and the level of funds that are remaining in the co-curricular budget.

    • What if participation drops for one or more sports/marching band?

    The level of participation would have to be reviewed on a yearly basis to determine if there is still an adequate amount of participants and how the lower level of participation impacts the activity’s budget.

    • When the committee first starts up, everyone will report that they need things right away. How will decisions be made about first step priorities?

    One of the first tasks that the committee will be required to do is develop a 3-5 year budget for planned expenditures based on the requested and required needs.  This needs analysis will also be compared to the inventory analysis done by the adhoc committee to verify its accuracy.

    • How do we handle “emergency” needs (e.g. a marching band drum head breaks on a Saturday afternoon with competition that night)?

    Emergency situations would be handled on a case by case basis.  Ultimately, the coach or band leader would be responsible for contacting a District administrator for approval.

    • How is it determined from year to year that the work of the committee continues?
    The School Board would be responsible for determining year to year requirements of the committee. 

    What is the “necessary” vs. “nice to have” from sport to sport to activity?

    Essentially, those items that are required to participate or put a team on the field are necessary.  A championship jacket is an example of a ’nice to have”.

    • Which items should be district responsibilities no matter what (e.g. football goalposts) and which items should be at the discretion of the committee?

    The items that are required to participate on a day in and day out basis are the responsibility of the district – essentially the facilities.  The equipment and the expenditures will be prioritized by the committee.

    • Should the athletic director or music director be added to the committee? What is the right number of participants for the activity fee committee? What should be the make-up of the committee?

    The following would comprise the initial Activity Fee Committee:

    • Business Manager
    • Booster Club Representative
    • Music Patrons Representative
    • High School Athletic Director
    • Middle School Athletic Director or Faculty Manager
    • Music Director
    • In addition to the inventories that have been done, how will it be ensured that the uniforms are matching and compliant with regulations?

    The Coaches working in conjunction with the Athletic Director will make sure that the uniforms are compliant.

    • Indoor Guard was not a part of the original proposal. Should it be?

    Indoor Guard was left off on the original proposal.  This was an oversight and Indoor Guard is an activity that would be required to pay an Activity Fee.

    • Which of these questions should be handed off to administration to research and answer, and which should be taken on by the committee?

    The adhoc committee utilized the administration for providing information on inventory levels and condition, consumable equipment requirements (balls, score books, etc) participant levels, replacement cost estimates, etc.  The adhoc committee utilized that information to determine what the required level of funding would be and to answer the balance of the questions.

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