Athletes in the Huber Heights school district will pay more than $300 less to participate in sports than what was originally expected during the 2013-14 school year, but some parents are still not happy about the new rate.
The Huber Heights school board voted 3-1 Thursday afternoon to reduce the pay-to-play fees from $750 to $428 per student per sport — with a $1,200 family cap — due to ongoing fundraising efforts by the athletic department’s Champions Club. About 100 people attended the meeting, which at times became heated with outspoken citizens in the crowd.
According to Superintendent Sue Gunnell, the next step is to reevaluate board policy, which states that the full payment of the participation fee must be paid prior to the start of the season. Deadline for fall sports is Aug. 15.
Gunnell said the board will discuss re-implementing a payment plan at its Aug. 8 meeting. She said there is no money at this time expected to be used from the general fund to support athletics.
“What we’re trying to do is maintain everything for the district,” said Kelly Bledsoe, school board president. “Sports is important to the community, and while $428 is not great, it’s certainly better than $750.”
Board member Carl Fisher voted against the proposal, noting that surrounding school districts have lower participation fees than Huber Heights. He suggested that athletics be partially supported by the general fund.
“It’s not fair to the students and parents of Huber Heights to be paying these types of fees,” Fisher said. “I believe the recommendation is a step in the right direction, but it should be more in line with other school districts in the area. I don’t see the fairness.”
Monica Bir, a member of the Champions Club committee, has a son, Ryan, a sophomore who plans to play golf and bowl this year.
“It’s a lot of money, but it’s not as bad as it could have been,” Bir said.
Bir said the Champions Club’s goal is to raise $300,000 this year. The club recently raised $12,000 in scoreboard advertisements and it will soon begin selling Warrior cards that feature discounts to local businesses. The district also has a $50,000 commitment from the Huber Heights Athletic Foundation.
“You’ve got to give back,” Bir said. “These kids are our future. We always want better for our kids, and this is where it needs to start.”
Michelle Rivas has two children who each plan to play two sports this year.
“They’re too high, of course,” Rivas said. “But it comes down to the board only spending what’s in front of them to spend. You can’t continue to spend money you don’t have. But the board has to allow parents to make payments.”
School officials have said the goal is to make athletics and extracurriculars self-sufficient. It costs $771,500 out of the general fund to support them, and the original ‘13-‘14 participation fees were projected to bring in approximately $580,000 for the year.
The reduced fee is projected to generate approximately $385,200, according to treasurer Ann Bernardo.
Huber Heights, which has an enrollment of about 6,300 students, has 800 to 900 students in grades seven through 12 who participate in sports each year.
As part of Huber Heights’ $6.4 million in cuts approved in January, participation fees were scheduled to increase — $225 to $750 per student per sport with no family cap; extracurriculars (band, cheerleading, drill team) from $185 to $225; and co-curriculars (student council, clubs) from $55 to $75.
The fees for extracurriculars ($225) and co-curriculars ($75) will remain the same.
Also during Thursday’s meeting, the school board approved 3-1 a resolution to proceed with a 5.95-mill levy on the Nov. 5 ballot if the 5.95-mill continuous operating levy is rejected by voters Aug. 6. Fisher voted against it.
Deadline to file for the November ballot is Aug. 7.