HUBER HEIGHTS — The Huber Heights school board discussed participation fees at their August meeting, before voting to keep extracurricular fees at the same rate.
Fees will remain at $350 per sport, with a family cap of $950, and $200 for band, cheerleading, and Warriorettes.
The board previously tabled a request for no change in participation fees at their July meeting.
At their August meeting, the board discussed possible ways to reduce the fees in the future, including whether it would be possible to remove the athletic director’s salary from the calculation of fees.
“What I can say is: my interpretation of the law is that any cost that goes into operation of athletic or extracurricular activities has to be included in the calculation. So that’s why the athletic director’s and the athletic coordinator’s salaries are in there,” Treasurer Gina Helmick said. “I can’t speak to how other districts do it, but I try to be strict within the letter of the law.”
Helmick added that she would seek clarification from the state auditor.
“We are committed to exploring all these avenues and all of the different ways that we can reduce these fees,” Helmick said. “Because we do want to reduce them. We don’t want to exclude people from participation.”
The board voted three to two in favor of keeping fees at the same rate. Board members Mike Miller and Krista Tipton voted no.
“I believe that athletics and extracurriculars are just as important as any other special program we are providing for kids,” Tipton said. “I understand that we have laws and regulations we have to stand by, but saying, ‘Sorry, it’s not in the budget,’ is not something that I’m willing to sit for.”
Several board members clarified their reasons for voting to keep fees at the same rate.
“The law right now is that we can only spend one half of 1 percent [of the district’s total budget on participation,] but we have to find offsets to get these fees down,” board member Mark Combs said, pointing out that the district has to be careful how it manages its budget. “We can’t move money around, we have to find real offsets.”
Board president Kelly Bledsoe said he could not vote for a reduction in fees, even though he would like to, because doing so would be “like kicking the can down the road.” He said that he would prefer to see a long term solution to fee reduction, without raising and lowering the fees from year to year.
Saying the district has a $3 million surplus that can be used to offset fees is misleading, he added.
“In looking at the five year forecast it really is not a surplus,” he said. “If we spend it now, it will have to come from somewhere later.”
Bledsoe added that there are plans underway to form a financial advisory committee for the district. The committee would weigh in on things like participation fees, he said.
In other business, the board approved an increase in pay for substitute teachers from $80 per day to $90.
Substitute teacher pay had not been increased since 2007, Helmick said, adding that the change should make the district more competitive with other area schools.
Huber Heights City Schools had previously been tied for lowest pay in area, she said.
Reach Cecilia Fox at email@example.com.
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