UM School Board Proposes New Activity Fee Plan
The plan, proposed by the Upper Moreland School Board's ad hoc Activity Fee, will be based off a tiered system via the cost of participation per co-curricular activity.
The ad hoc Activity Fee Committee reported its findings to the May 29 Programs and Services Committee of the Upper Moreland School Board.
Formed by board president Dr. David Hakes in Janurary, the ad hoc committee was charged with finding the feasibility of implementing a district-wide activity fee.
The committee included representative stakeholders in the school district’s 74 co-curricular programs:
- Ryan Young - Faculty Manager at the High School
- Melissa Schuck - Faculty Manager at the Middle School
- Lin Magaha - Representative from the Booster Club
- Ben Janney and Rudy Cieri - Representatives from the Music Patrons,
- Michael Braun -Business Manager
- Mark Wenik and Dan Barber – Upper Moreland School Board members
“We took a lot of time with this,” Braun said. “We went to several sources of info, and asked coaches and athletic directors to help us out to find out what really was the true cost of everything we are doing.”
Braun said that the ad hoc committee reviewed the last five years of expenses concerning supplies, equipment, registration fees and transportation to events in excess of 50 miles. This historical review of costs was sourced through the district’s business office, as well as the records from the Booster Club and Music Patrons.
The second task led the ad hoc committee to create an inventory analysis of the immediate and long-term needs of each co-curricular team. According to Young, the committee interviewed with each coach at both the High School and Middle School, asking them to help number the amount of participants, as well as itemize every piece of equipment associated in running the co-curricular activity.
With this information, the ad hoc committee was able to determine that certain co-curricular activities would need equipment replaced sooner than others.
The example given in the ad hoc committee’s report followed the 10-year lifespan of Track uniforms. According to the example, a track uniform costs $30 each with approximately 50 uniforms needed, the activity fee would need to be able to set aside $150 per year to ensure the team has the $1,500 to order new uniforms a decade from now.
Magaha, whom Braun said did the lions share of work in putting together the report, put together the report’s accompanying large spreadsheets of gathered information.
“It’s real numbers. There’s very little guess-work in it,” Magaha said. “The fees that we came up with are as fair as we could possibly be to generate the numbers we need to make sure that these programs don’t go away.”
The report states the fee analysis/final expense for each co-curricular has lent the basis for a fee structure that would, “Extrapolate costs per participant for each activity.”
He emphasized that the fee analysis is a life-cycle analysis, to be collected and considered for use over the years, as needed by the individual co-curricular activities.
“It really is a living document,” Magaha said. “So, we don’t have to go over this again in five – 10 years.”
The Fee Structure and Implementation Proposal
The ad hoc committee’s extensive district-wide co-curricular analysis resulted in a proposal for a five-tiered fee structure, based on the specific costs of a co-curricular activity:
- Co-curricular activities at the High School: 3 Tiers of $75, $100 and $125
- Co-curricular activities at the Middle School: 2 Tiers of $25 and $50
According to the ad hoc committee report, there are no limits for multiple activities or families; however, the cost isn’t reduced if a student participates in multiple activities.
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During the committee’s report, it was stated that high-expense, co-curricular activities, such as high school swimming, football and marching band would be on the higher-end tiers, while cheerleading and wrestling would be at the mid-range.
The report further proposed that all activity fees should be collected when medical forms are due. And, while the fee does not in any way alter school district policies, team rules or PIAA regulations, it also doesn’t guarantee playing time for the participating student.
Refunds of the fee will be provided if the student suffers a season ending injury prior to the mid-point of the season or if the student moves out of the school district.
The report also notes that students participating in a non-playing role do not have to pay the fee.
According to Braun, the fee structure also took into consideration students participating in free-and-reduced lunches.
The next step for the school board is to create a permanent Activity Fee Committee to address more details concerning the implementation of the fee.
The issue of fundraising was brought up by audience members of the committee meeting. While the work of hammering out details concerning individual team fundraising will be left to the permanant Activity Fee Committee, the report does address the concern for fundraising.
"Fundraising was exclueded from our process, as any future fundraising levels cannot be gauranteed to raise enough income to fund all of these programs. This, however, does not preclude any organization from fundraising in order to reduce these fees, or donate to any program."
According to Braun, co-curricular programs that do fundraise would likely recieve a prorated check from the school district, reimbursing them the fees paid into the Activity Fee.
The proposed activity fee is expected to be the topic of further discussion committee meetings, where the public will have the opportunity to voice opinions prior to the next regular meeting of the school board.
A Fall 2012 Start?
According to Dr. Robert Milrod, school district superintendent, the district hopes to implement this activity fee by the start of the upcoming school year.
While Milrod first introduced the idea of an activity fee, earlier this school year, the committee’s fee structure is a departure from Milrod’s original proposal.
Later in the meeting, Wenik said the ad hoc committee ultimately found that the original Activity Fee structure would not be enough in sustaining all the co-curricular activities next and future years.
“Other communities are cutting arts and sports programs,” Wenik said. “What we’re saying is we don’t want to do that. What can we do to keep these available for the kids?”
A superintendent’s memo is expected to be sent out to the school community and posted on the school district’s website in the near future. Questons and the corresponding answers that the public posed to help shape the the ad hoc committee’s proposal will also be made available on the website.