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Mehlville board considers $10 reduction in high school athletics fee


By MIKE ANTHONY

Executive Editor

A recommendation to further reduce the amount of the Mehlville School District's high school athletics activity fee was scheduled to be considered earlier this week by the Board of Education.

The Board of Education was scheduled to meet Monday night Ė after the Call went to press.

The district's high school athletics activity fee currently is $40. Superintendent Tim Ricker and Randy Charles, assistant superintendent for finance and the district's chief financial officer, are recommending the school board reduce the fee by $10 to $30.

Activity fees were established by the school board in 1995 after several tax-rate increase proposals were defeated by voters.

Fees established at that time included $50 for high school sports, $25 for high school band, choir, cheerleading and dance teams, a "flat rate'' for high school yearbooks and newspapers, and $10 for high school, middle school and elementary school clubs and organizations.

In 1997, the Board of Education voted to place a cap on the activity fees of $100 per student and $300 per family.

Board members voted last year to eliminate the fees charged to participate in elementary school, middle school and high school clubs and organizations, and to charge a one-time, annual activity fee of $40 to participate in high school sports instead of the previous $50 fee charged for each sport.

At that time, board members also agreed to consider future reductions in the activity fee for high school sports with the goal of eliminating the fee completely in 2005-2006 by reducing it to $30 in 2003-2004, $20 in 2004-2005 and eliminating it the following year.

To help offset the loss of revenue — about $120,000 during the 2002-2003 school year — the board last year in-creased fees for the use of district buildings and established fees for the use of district athletic fields. The fees for the use of the district's athletics fields were modeled on those used by the Lindbergh School District, according to Charles, who formulated the policy.

"We're going to go ahead and recommend the $10-per-year reduction for this year,'' Ricker told the Call. "Some of our fees didn't come in as strong last year for what we thought would be fees that could offset the activity fee, some of our building usage fees. We think that that will increase next year because of the new facilities.''

The district administration had estimated last summer that the $40 activity fee would generate $53,600.

However, the actual amount collected by the district's two high schools totaled $40,965, according to information provided to the board by Charles.

"To reduce the activity fee from $40 to $30 for the 2003-2004 school year would reduce the revenue by approximately $10,241 — 25 percent of $40,965. This relatively small reduction in 'other local revenue' can be accommodated within the approved 2003-2004 district budget,'' Charles noted in the information provided to the board.

Since their inception, the activity fees were not popular with all district parents.

In response to parents' concerns, the board established the per-student and per-family caps on the fee. Residents and parents periodically had addressed the board, calling for the elimination of the activity fees.

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