If voters approve a 7.4-mill permanent tax levy, the South-Western City Schools District will bring back athletics and extracurricular activities, but with a cost.
A pay-to-participate plan was laid out for the board of education at the Sept. 28 meeting at the Career Academy.
Deputy Superintendent Phil Warner said last year the district spent $2.5 million from its general fund for extracurricular activities. The total cost was $3.7 million. Last year, athletics alone cost $1.9 million combining middle school and high school sports; $1.6 million for personnel and $267,500 for transportation.
For marching band and music, the district spends approximately $321,500 a year; $291,500 for personnel and $30,000 for transportation. Warner said the transportation cost stems from the weekend marching band competitions.
The fee plan presented to the board includes a $150 high school fee per student per sport. For middle school sports, the fee would be $75. The marching band fee would be $100 and students in clubs would pay $20 per activity.
Warner said last year, the district had 4,122 students participate in extracurricular activities. If all those students were to participate and pay the fee, it would offset the general fund cost by about 18 percent and would generate $440,000. The deputy superintendent said he does not expect that many students to participate.
“We’re guessing we’ll see a 15 percent drop off with pay-to-participate,” said Warner.
If the board were to approve the participation fees, the district would be the second highest in Franklin County, with only Reynoldsburg charging more for high school activities. Reynoldsburg charges a $500 participation fee. Canal Winchester charges $140. Whitehall has a $10 participation fee.
“We wanted the families to have some level of shared responsibility to offset the costs,” said Warner. “We also wanted to maintain participation as best as we could.”
The plan did not include a fee cap or a waiver for students enrolled in the free lunch program, which concerned some board members.
Randy Reisling said the lack of a cap would put a crunch on families with multiple students in the district.
“We could easily see families approaching $1,500 in athletics alone,” said the board member.
He asked the administration to look at participation costs with a $1,000 or $1,500 fee cap.
He also said he would like to see figures factoring in a waiver for students on the free or reduced lunch program.
Warner said students on the free lunch program may be able to apply for scholarship programs in order to participate.
The board plans to discuss the matter at its Oct. 12 public meeting.
The 7.4-mill operating levy would generate about $18 million for the district. It would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $227 a year or $18 per month. This is the district’s fourth time on the ballot since last fall.