By Linda Dillman
Canal Winchester families will pay a third less for school and pay-to-participate fees the next two years following action by the Canal Winchester Board of Education.
Superintendent Jim Sotlar suggested the board reduce fees because of the district’s improving financial situation and a potential $1.5 million infusion of new state money for 2016 and 2017.
While school fees vary depending on individual class requirements, the pay-to-participate fee at $300 per activity for athletics and cheerleading, with an individual cap of $600 per school year, have remained unchanged for several years.
“Back in 2009-10, they doubled the fee ($150) and it stayed at that level,” Sotlar said. “As our financial forecast is looking better, I’m recommending a reduction in fees.”
According to Sotlar, aside from the Pickerington school district—which recently voted to reduce fees—and the New Albany school district, Canal Winchester has the highest pay-to-participate fees in the Ohio Capital Conference. The fee offsets the cost for coaches and transportation.
“With a 25 percent reduction, it (fee) would come down $75,” said Sotlar. “I think it would help our school families.”
“It would be nice one day to get back to our original fee.”
Board member Bob Toledo suggested taking a larger cut in the fee structure. He made a motion to reduce the pay-to-participate fee to $200 per activity for athletics and cheerleading and by a third for other fees across the board and revisit the policy in two years.
“Many people struggle paying pay-to-participate fees along with their property taxes,” said Toledo. “I want the fee low enough to get kids to be able to play.”
The board approved Toledo’s motion, which takes effect with the 2015-16 and 2016-17 school years.
Sotlar updated the board on the district’s new web portal for parents.
“We are in the process of implementing a one-stop shop for parent information,” said Sotlar.
The traditional packet of forms sent home with students the first day of class is being replaced with a single information sheet directing parents and guardians to the district website and links to forms they can fill out and submit online.
For families without Internet access at home, computers are available at the district office and individual school buildings, along with library branches.
“We’re trying to make forms more efficient and easier for parents to use,” Sotlar said.
CW Schools meals program
Under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, students may be eligible for free or reduced lunch and breakfast. To find out if your child is eligible, complete a school meals family application. You can apply at www.cwschools.org or pick up an application at the Canal Winchester Education Center, 100 Washington St., Canal Winchester.