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Hinsdale, Illinois |

Published June 22, 2017

D86 OKs student fees for sports, more

By Ken Knutson

Starting this fall, Hinsdale High School District 86 students will have to pay fees to be part of sports teams, other competitive events and performance activities.
   District 86 board members voted 5-0-1 Monday to impose the fees in an effort to cover rising expenses.
   The fees will be $115 per sport, with a $230 cap per student, and $55 per activity, with a $110 cap. These fees, expected to generate about $340,000 a year, come in the wake of a $50 per student technology fee the board approved in February.
   Superintendent Bruce Law said the more than $5 million dedicated annually to support sports and club activities in the district siphons off operations and maintenance funds needed for capital projects.
   “As our costs have increased, revenue hasn’t kept up,” he said. “One of the reasons were looking at competitive activities and sports is that it is a significant spend, and it is a spend over which we do have some discretion.”
   Board member Nancy Pollak, who ultimately abstained from voting, asked why the costs to run the extracurricular programs couldn’t be spread across all district    residents.
   Board President Bill Carpenter replied that the district’s finance committee recommended that a user fee was fairer approach than asking all to pay for the pursuits of a limited segment of the student population. He acknowledged the complications with having fees, like parents expecting their student-athlete to receive playing time commensurate with the money they’ve paid. But he suggested the alternative is having no such programs at all.
   “The reason behind these fees was getting the individual sports and clubs to ... help cover the cost of them so we can continue to offer (them),” Carpenter said.
   Pollak floated the idea of imposing a registration fee instead. Law said that was considered but the already “crushing” cost of books made that a less attractive option.
   “Districts do implement (registration fees), but the book fees in District 86 are high,” Law said.
Board member Kevin Camden said a survey of neighboring districts revealed that activity fees are imposed “almost universally.”
   Law said no programs were in danger of being cut in the 2017-18 fiscal year, but greater uncertainty exists beyond that with needed facility improvements and maintenance work.
   “Those needs are ongoing and continuing and increasing, and we’re concerned about trying to keep up with that,” he said. “There could be other, more difficult conversations ahead.”
   Carpenter said there are positives and negatives to a fee system.
   “We don’t want kids to not be able to play. We acknowledge that (the added cost) might be tough,” Carpenter said, noting that some families in the free and reduced lunch program would be exempt from the fee. “We strive to do what’s in the best interest of everybody.”


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