The Huber Heights school board agreed Wednesday afternoon to re-implement a payment plan for the district’s 2013-14 participation fees.
The school board met in a special session and unanimously approved a plan that will allow students and families to pay the $428 participation fee in three installments per athletic season.
The structure for the fall sports season is a $143 payment is due Aug. 15, another $143 is due Sept. 15 and the remaining $142 is due Oct. 15. The three payments for winter and spring sports are the same amounts.
The plan is similar to last year’s before the board approved a policy in April that required the full payment be paid before the start of the season.
At that time, Huber Heights officials determined the district did not receive all of the participation fees during the 2012-13 school year. Treasurer Ann Bernardo said there was a shortage of about $30,000 last school year.
“Even though the participation fees had been lowered, we understand it was a lot of money to come up with at one time,” Superintendent Sue Gunnell said. “Hopefully this will alleviate the financial stress on our families and we’ll continue to work to make sure payments are collected.”
The school board voted last week to decrease the participation fee from $750 per student per sport to $428 — with a $1,200 family cap — due to ongoing fundraising efforts by the athletic department’s Champions Club. During that meeting, parents voiced their desire for a payment plan.
The official start of the fall sports season, except for football, is today. Football officially begins Monday.
“We appreciate the board’s willingness to adapt to a system that helps families out,” said Jay Minton, the district’s athletic director and head football coach. “It’s what we can do at this point in time.”
Gunnell said the district will work with families to make sure payments are paid on time. But if a student’s balance isn’t paid off in full for one season, that student will be ineligible to participate in the next sports season until it is paid off, she said.
“That’s part of the risk factor implementing this plan,” said Kelly Bledsoe, school board president. “We’ll see how the payments are coming in, but this is a step in the right direction for families.”
Jenna Posey has two children in the district who play a combined three sports. She said the fees are “absolutely a little high,” and if they weren’t lowered from $750 to $428, her children likely would have had to choose which sport to play.
“The payment plan makes it able for people to have their kids participate,” Posey said. “If you don’t have a payment plan, kids are going to miss out because parents might not be able to get it paid in the beginning, but could get it paid by the end of the sport.”
As part of Huber Heights’ $6.4 million in cuts approved in January, the participation fee for sports was scheduled to increase from $225 to $750 per student per sport with no family cap.
School officials have said the goal is to make athletics and extracurriculars self-sufficient. It costs approximately $771,500 annually to support them, and the reduced fee is projected to generate approximately $385,200, according to Bernardo. Gunnell said last week there is no money at this time expected to be used from the general fund to support athletics.