Board approves increase in student fees
Activity fees, book rentals and school lunches will be a little more expensive next year in the Baldwin School District.
The Baldwin Board of Education increased some student fees Monday night in an attempt to meet the district's $7.54 million budget for the 2003-2004 school year.
Supt. James White told the board the approved increases could generate as much as $22,000 in additional revenue.
Book rental fees were increased from $40 to $50 for the high school, $30 to $50 for the junior high, $30 to $40 for the elementary schools and $20 to $30 for kindergarten.
Lunch prices will be increased for all students by 10 cents and all adults by 15 cents.
Activity participation fees were increased from $20 to $30 per student for each activity.
Activity passes were increased from $25 to $35 for an adult high school pass, $15 to $25 for a student high school pass, $25 to $30 for an adult junior high pass and $15 to $20 for a student junior high pass.
All decisions were unanimously approved by the school board with the exception of the increase in student activity participation fees. Board Member Stacy Cohen voted against the $10 increase because she said there was an inequity in activity expenses.
"We spend nearly $200 per kid in football," Cohen said. "I have a real problem putting out $200 per kid when they only pay $30 to participate.
"Some activities have very little cost. Others, like football, are really expensive," she said. "When we're letting go of personnel, it just really disturbs me how much money we're spending in some areas."
She said she thought fees should increase on a sliding scale and be determined by how much expense is spent on each activity.
"I totally support activities, but our primary mission is to provide sound academics," she said. "It's got to pay for itself somehow, but it can't be at the expense of academics.
"I'm just struck by the fact that we have to lay off teachers, but we don't even touch a sport."
White said the district was not losing personnel at the expense of student activities.
"It still irritates me a little that the perception is we're cutting positions and damaging to some degree academics. Academics is important to us," he said. "I think our academic program has taken big steps forward in the past few years."
Cuts in personnel, he said, were not a result from activity expenses.
"We're trying to equalize staffing," he said. "We had to cut in some areas where we haven't needed staff members."
White said the elementary art program was the only exception. But he said cutting the program made sense because it was limited with only one teacher divided between three buildings.
"It's not enough of an art program," he said. "They can get that much art instruction from classroom teachers."
Board Member Scott Lauridsen said he didn't think activity participation fees should be on a sliding scale depending on the expense of the activity.
"You have to look at the value of these activities for some," he said. "Some are as important to them as academics."
Lauridsen said he was also concerned that by raising participation fees more than $10 would keep some students from being able to participate.
"I think you then run the risk of excluding kids on cost," he said.
Board Member Blaine Cone was in favor of the $10 increase, but also suggested the district consider charging a small fee next year for academic electives, like debate, band, vocal music and forensics, that require a coach or transportation.
In other business, the school board:
- Approved in a 6-0 vote, Board Member Alison Bauer was absent, to elect Ed Schulte as board president and Lonnie Broers as board vice president.
- Discussed the School Resource Officer position with Baldwin City Police Chief Mike McKenna.
McKenna told the board the federal grant for the SRO has expired and the city doesn't feel it can support the entire cost of the position. He said the position will cost about $55,000 next year.
The school board said it felt the position was important, but couldn't afford to support it either.
"We feel like it's a valuable program, but at this point, we haven't built that into the budget," Schulte said.
- Heard a presentation from Cindy Trarbach and a group of soccer players and parents about starting a soccer team as a district activity at the high school level.
Trarbach said a survey of this year's high school students revealed 58 said they would play soccer as a fall sport.
"Our community interest in soccer is growing," she said.