The Rockwood School District’s Board of Education voted unanimously on Sept. 4 to postpone collection of participation fees for elementary and middle school intramural activities until after further study of the issue, as requested by Superintendent Eric Knost.
Knost told the board that the original proposal for participation fees was presented in February, as part of various belt-tightening efforts by the district to cut expenses, but an overall decision was postponed at that time.
The board had approved a participation fee of $10 per student for elementary and middle school district cross country, track and volleyball events effective for the 2014-2015 school year.
However, the entire proposal was then postponed, though it was submitted as part of the 2014-2015 budget approved by the board of education on June 19, Knost said.
Knost, who became Rockwood’s superintendent in July, said that he realized there is “a lot of confusion on the issue, and the topic has bubbled up.”
“There are a lot of question marks, a lot of philosophical concerns, including mine, on these fees,” he said, adding that he has been investigating the proposal’s history.
“The issue deserves some resolution. As Rockwood’s new superintendent, I’m asking for more time to analyze the issue but also am asking that we not charge fees for this year.”
Knost said he feared instituting fees could cause the programs to suffer significantly in loss of participation, which he said would defeat the purpose of trying to engage students in schools through the programs.
“I don’t want to see the programs suffer, and they will if this is not further addressed,” he said. “I’d like a year to analyze the issue.”
Officials said the issue will likely come back to the board in February.
The postponement will mean that fees of about $11,000 for this school year won’t be collected as originally planned, said Tim Rooney, the district’s chief financial and legislative officer.
But he added that’s a small part of the district’s $210 million 2014-15 budget.
Board president Bill Brown agreed the issue of fees was originally discussed by the board as a budget consideration to keep the district’s deficit as low as possible.
“But keeping the participation is worth the cost,” Brown said.