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School Board Approves Activity Fee

The long-discussed co-curricular financing proposal will now go towards implementation for the 2012-2013 school year.

It took from the to the end of this school year for the Upper Moreland School Board to approve a viable .

Essentially, the fee will address the needs of the co-curricular activities at the middle and high schools, such as the purchasing of uniforms, travelling expenses and equipment.

After the district’s superintendent, Dr. Robert Milrod, gave the initial activity fee proposal, the school board voted at the June 19 Regular Meeting to adopt the second proposal, which describes a five-tiered payment plan for students to participate in district co-curriculars.

Milrod’s initial proposal in January produced highly attended committee meetings by parents and other school stakeholders, who were wary of having such a fee.

The board then created an administration-and community-based to make the proposal feasible for implementation. Several board committees continued to discuss the ad hoc activity fee committee’s progress for the remainder of the school year.

Several members of the board expressed thanks to the ad hoc committee for volunteering their time toward making the activity fee feasible.

School board member Al DerMovesian spoke first, first thanking Milrod for proposing an initially unpopular fee, as well as Dan Barber and Mark Wenik for representing the board on the committee.

“I especially want to thank the community members involved,” DerMovesian said.

He described the activity fee plan as very detailed and thoughtful of community input, as well as necessary to keep available student co-curricular programs.

“What we got here was the opportunity to for our district to continue the co-curriculum programs that have been so important and so strong to the students of this district,” DerMovesian said. “While it’s not the best scenario, this is where we’re at.”

Mark Wenik, vice president of the school board, presided over the meeting for board resident Dr. David Hakes, who was away on business. Wenik said that the fee wasn’t an action the board was eager to implement.

“It’s probably the last thing any of the board members wanted to have to do,” Wenik said. “We realize that there will be some children that this will have a negative impact to.”

Wenik said in order to continue offering co-curricular activities, the board had to look at the “physical reality.”

“The tax base has shrunk than where we were several years ago, and we are no longer in a position where we can push these decisions off,” Wenik said. “It’s not a pleasant thing to do, but we do have to impose an activity fee at a level that’s good for these kids.”

Wenik pointed to the activity fee’s prioritization component, where the new Activity Fee Committee (pending board approval to organize) will help determine the highest needs of co-curricular teams and organizations.

Several questions regarding the fee's implementation were among the chief concerns of the many parents and stakeholders at the initial proposal meetings.

“At first, there were a lot of voices in a lot of different directions,” Milrod said at the meeting. “But, the arrows really lined up on this from the community.”

Milrod said he was pleased with the work of the ad hoc committee, hailing its various stakeholder members as “community leaders.”

“I was really heartened to see the cooperation of groups that came together,” Milrod said. “In my time here, this is the first time I’ve seen a committee like this.”

Later in the meeting, Milrod commented how the activity fee provides parents of the school district the opportunity to “step up” and help the board preserve student programs, such as co-curriculars.

Milrod also emphasized that the activity will not go toward the district’s base funding, and therefore will not lower taxes. Instead, the revenue from the activity fee will exclusively be used for co-curricular teams and organizations. 

Later in the meeting, the board would also pass its 2012 – 2013 budget, which includes a tax increase.

The Upper Moreland Co-Curricular Activity Fee is expected for implementation for the 2012-2013 school year. According to school board member Dan Barber, the board will now look toward creating the Activity Fee Committee, also expected to include community members.

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While the school board is now officially at summer recess, a special action meeting is scheduled for July 3. The meeting will discuss and vote on contracts concerning school district staff.

The Upper Moreland School Board will resume its regular committee and full board meetings in August.  

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