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School cost-saving measures include increase in activity fees


Students will need to pay more for extracurricular activities next year.

The Park Rapids School Board approved increased fees for athletics, speech, fall/winter play and One-Act play for the 2009-10 school year. It also approved cost-saving measures proposed by Activities Director John Schumacher.

"We've cut athletics, as far as I can see, to the bare bones," Schumacher told the board.

There isn't an activities budget as far as equipment goes so there wasn't anything there to cut, he said. Also, as far as coaching, all the middle school programs are either already paid for by the boosters or coaches are splitting the pay of one coach, he said.

"I looked at some things that I felt we could handle, that I'm hoping the people of Park Rapids could handle," Schumacher said.

High school athletic fees will increase from $125 to $150 per sport.

"Right now, Walker charges $150 for their high school sports also," Schumacher said.

Other schools, such as Crosby-Ironton "are well over $250 per sport," he said.

He also proposed increasing the participation from $60 to $75 for fine arts activities, which include speech, fall/winter play and One-Act play.

"Kids who get charged a participation fee for fall and winter play are the acting roles, not the tech guy who's making the set," he said.

Choir and band will stay at $35. Schumacher said he couldn't see raising the participation fee because those students are in three events - solo, ensembles and large groups.

The family cap will be increased from $450 to $500.

"A lot of the schools around have gone away with family caps," Schumacher said. "I think it's important that we maintain ours."

His administrative assistant, Shirley Potter, took the current participation numbers to calculate increased revenue if the participation fee increased for athletics.

He estimates the total revenue will increase by $6,619 given the same participation numbers next year.

"Now, will that $25 put someone over the edge? ... It might," Schumacher said.

But in some cases, fees are waived or reduced based on free and reduced lunches or certain circumstances, he said. That will continue to be the case.

Schumacher also proposed increasing ticket prices for admission to sporting events. Adult tickets will increase from $5 to $6. This is the section rate, he said. Schumacher proposed leaving the student rate at $3.

The estimated revenue increase for charging $6 instead of $5 is $4,113 if attendance is about the same as last year, Schumacher said.

"Will the buck make someone not come? I would say 'no' if they're a supporter of our athletic program," he said.

Adult season tickets will increase from $50 to $60 and adult 12-event punch cards will increase from $30 to $36. But these increases aren't included in the proposed revenue increase, he said.

"Very few people buy the adult season ticket," Schumacher said.

He also recommended budget reductions for activities.

The fall/winter play and One Act play set budget will decrease from $2,800 to $1,800.

Other proposed reductions don't have a specific dollar amount but should save money in transportation, Schumacher said.

There will be no more stopping at restaurants after contests.

"You want to eat, pack subs, pack a lunch and go," Schumacher said. "A lot of schools are going to this."

He also wants to shorten the arrival time to events.

"There's no reason to show up at a girl's basketball game when I'm playing at 6, at quarter to 5," he said.

Also, he wants to speed up the departure time after contests and before the bus leaves.

"You add all that time together, you'll start saving money," Schumacher said.

He will be meeting with other school athletic directors to combine mid-level trips. For example, if volleyball and tennis were scheduled for the same day in Detroit Lakes, they could travel together instead of one team going on Tuesday and the other on Thursday, he said.

Schumacher said he is also looking at having the boosters pay for the longest non-conference, non-section trip. A travel limit could be set, he said.

"If we didn't have the Park Rapids Education and Activities Foundation we'd be doing a ton of fundraising," he said.

The foundation helps in the classroom as well as with activities, he said.

"Next year this could be a whole different picture, this could be programs next year," Schumacher said. "...that would be a bridge I hopefully won't have to cross. But I think we're headed that way."

Board member Gary Gauldin asked if Schumacher had something in mind if next year the board says more needs to be cut from sports or activities.

Schumacher said he has started to look at that in case the budget becomes worse next year.

The current year expenditure budget for activities is $538,000 with an off-setting revenue of $233,000, said business manager Carol Hutchinson. For next year, the expenditure budget is $525,000 with an off-setting revenue of $235,000, she said.

The board approved the revenue enhancements and reductions at its Monday meeting.