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Mehlville budget assumes hikes in activity fees, memo says


A budget for the 2004-2005 school year recently approved by the Mehlville Board of Education assumes a $10 increase in the district's fee for high school athletics and the reinstatement of previously eliminated activity fees, according to a district memorandum.

The Board of Education voted in 2002 to rescind most activity fees with the goal of eliminating the high school athletics fee by the 2005-2006 school year.

Board members have not publicly discussed changes to student-activity fees, but the July 6 district memo states that the 2004-2005 budget, unanimously approved by the board June 29, "was built based upon an assumption that activity fees would be increased for activities and athletics.''

The memo, written by Assistant Superintendent of Finance Randy Charles and sent to Board of Education members and Central Office staff, further states, "This information was not presented to the board on June 29, 2004, because administration was not yet prepared to make a formal recommendation.''

An attached June 8 report indicates the activity fee for high school athletics would increase by $10. The report also indicates that a $10 fee would be charged for elementary and middle school sports. The report indicates 2,300 students could be subject to the athletics fees, amounting to an additional $23,000 for the district.

Other fees, according to the June 8 report, include:

• $10 for high school music students — 400 students could be subject to the fee, the report indicates, amounting to an extra $4,000 for the district.

• $25 for high school band/choir students at each school — 360 students could be subject to the fee, amounting to an extra $9,000 for the district.

• $10 for middle school band/choir students at each school — 320 students could be subject to the fee, amounting to an extra $3,200 for the district.

• $25 for high school Poms, Cheerleaders/Flags students — 150 students could be subject to the fee, amounting to an extra $3,750 for the district.

• $10 "per elementary clubs" — 1,000 could be subject to the fee, amounting to an extra $10,000 for the district.

• $10 for middle school students in clubs — 800 students could be subject to the fee, amounting to an extra $8,000.

• $10 for high school students in clubs — 800 students could be subject to the fee, amounting to an extra $8,000 for the district.

Charles also states in the memo, "The activity fees are already assumed to be increased. To generate enough additional revenue to cover the otherwise proposed cuts to coaching and sponsors' positions would require an increase in athletic fees to approximately $100 per year per student/athlete."

Superintendent Tim Ricker refused to comment July 22 when asked if and why student-activity fees are increasing, but Janet Winterrose of the School/Community Relations Department said there have been "no changes" and that student-activity fees had not been increased.

The Board of Education in July 2002 voted 5-0 to eliminate 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 charged for each sport during the 2001-2002 school year.

Current board President Cindy Christopher, Secretary Marea Kluth-Hoppe, Vice President Matt Chellis and board member Rita Diekemper served on that board.

While Chellis and Diekemper were absent from the July 2002 board meeting, Christopher and Kluth-Hoppe voted in favor of the effort to rescind club activities and eventually phase out sports fees.

Under the proposal unanimously approved by the board two years ago, the goal was to reduce the athletics fee to $30 in 2003-2004, to $20 in 2004-2005 and eliminate the fee completely in 2005-2006.

The board's decision to rescind most activity fees with the goal of eliminating an athletics fee by the 2005-2006 school year was termed "a child-centered decision'' by John Cary, who was superintendent at the time.

To compensate for the lost revenue, board members approved in 2002 increases for the use of district indoor facilities and an overall 10 percent increase for the use of outdoor facilities, then estimated to generate $61,000. Administrators then predicted that the district would "come close to offsetting the reduction in activity fees" because the reduced activity fees would have generated $53,600.

Board members again in July 2003 voted 6-1, with Chellis opposed, to reduce the high school athletics activity fee by $10 to $30 per year for the 2003-2004 school year. Current members Bill Schornheuser, Mike Heins, Kluth-Hoppe, Diekemper and Christopher supported it.

However, the July 6 memo indicates students again would be subject to activity fees for clubs and organizations and those participating in sports will experience a "$10 increase." A "$10 increase" from the 2003-2004 school year's student-activity fee would amount to $40 a year.

Activity fees were established by the Board of Education in 1995 after several failed tax-rate increase proposals and in 2002 generated $120,000 annually.

The old fees were $50 for high school sports, $25 for high school band, choir, cheerleading and dance teams, a "flat rate" for high school yearbook and newspaper, 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.

Also listed in the July 6 report are projected savings of $78,728 that would be realized through the elimination and condensing of extracurricular club and athletics staff positions.

Among the reduced positions indicated in the report are:

• Director of aquatics.

• Coordinator of PAT program.

• Four Problem Solving positions, but four Problem Solving positions will be added and paid a lesser amount.

• Coordinator of outdoor environmental lab.

• 10 elementary computer lab supervisors and five secondary computer clubs.

• Three clubs at each middle school and three clubs at each high school.

• Four assistant cross country coaches, one assistant water polo coach and two assistant swimming coaches.

• Four assistant golf coaches and four assistant tennis coaches.

• A half-time assistant boys' soccer, assistant girls' soccer, assistant football, assistant boys' basketball, assistant girls' basketball, assistant wrestling, softball and baseball coach at each high school.

The physical education and driver's education department heads would be combined into one position, the memo indicates, while six secondary computer clubs would be added. A high school assistant vocal music position and an Oakville Senior High School/Mehlville Senior High School coach also would be added.

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