Brainerd athletes likely will be granted slight relief this spring from the $380 sport participation fee and will instead pay $250 or $350, depending on the sport.
The Brainerd School Board Curriculum Committee Wednesday recommended the school board at its regular meeting Monday reduce the participation fees for the upcoming spring athletic season with the hope that it boosts participation numbers.
Committee members also recommended a change in the middle and high school athletic and activity fee structure for next fall in which high school sports will cost between $250-$425 and middle level sports $100-$150 to participate. This proposed policy revision will receive a first reading at Monday's board meeting.
The committee also recommended eliminating the current athletic fundraising program and instead supporting the development of a comprehensive fundraising policy in which each sport and activity is responsible for its own fundraising drives. This fundraising, along with assistance for qualified families through Warrior Way Inc., could help alleviate the high cost of participation fees, officials said.
Brainerd High School activities director Todd Selk told board members fall participation levels were down 11 percent and winter numbers dropped 6 percent.
An athletics and activities advisory committee, made up of school staff, coaches, several parents and community members, has been meeting since August and created the proposed fee structure. The policy includes a three-tiered system at BHS based on the actual gross cost of each sport and number of anticipated participants. It does not include facility costs, such as renting ice time at the Brainerd Area Civic Center for the hockey teams.
D.J. Dondelinger, an advisory committee member, said the committee felt it was unfair for some athletes, like those who may participate in one event at a track meet, to pay $380, the same as those athletes whose sport is more expensive.
"We have some sports that cost $1,250 per participant," said Dondelinger. "Why should someone in a sport that costs $65 per student pay $380?"
Dondelinger said what concerned him and other advisory members was that the numbers were down in middle level sports, which will later affect high school participation.
While some sports will cost more, others will cost less than they have this year. Fees were increased this fall because of district-wide budget reductions.
Spring high school sports, including boys' tennis, boys' and girls' golf and track, will cost $250 if the plan is approved by the board. Baseball and softball will cost $350 after board approval. Middle level spring sports will cost $100 to $150, depending on the sport.
The proposed fee schedule for BHS athletics is as follows:
• Tier 1: $250 per sport for boys' and girls' tennis, boys' and girls' golf, boys' and girls' track, dance line and adaptive floor hockey.
• Tier 2: $350 per sport for football, boys' and girls' swimming, boys' and girls' cross country, baseball, softball, boys' and girls' soccer and volleyball.
• Tire 3: $425 per sport for boys' and girls' hockey, boys' and girls' basketball, wrestling, gymnastics, boys' and girls' Nordic skiing and boys' and girls' Alpine skiing.
The proposed fee schedule for BHS activities, most a 50 percent reduction from this year, is as follows:
• Tier 1: $20 for MSHSL music.
• Tier 2: $50 for one-act play, school play, Knowledge Bowl, mock trial and jazz band.
• Tier 3: $150 for speech and debate.
The proposed fee schedule for middle school athletics is as follows:
• Tier 1: $100 per sport for sixth-grade football and track, sixth- through eighth-grade volleyball and sixth- through seventh-grade softball.
• Tier 2: $150 per sport for seventh- through eighth-grade football and track; sixth- through eighth-grade girls' tennis, cross country, girls' swimming, Nordic skiing, wrestling, boys' swimming and boys' tennis; and eighth-grade softball and baseball.
Under this proposal, multi-sport participants will receive a $50 credit for a second sport and a $100 credit for a third sport at the high school level, a $25 credit for a second sport and a $50 credit for a third sport at the middle school level.
Ninth-grade athletic participants, in an effort to increase participation at the high school level, will receive a $50 credit on participation fees. A family cap for middle school and high school fees will be $1,500, excluding multi-sport credits, freshman credits and Warrior Way fee assistance.
The changes in the fee structure for the spring season does not include any credits or the family cap limit.
The proposed fundraising guidelines require that an activity or athletic program directly sponsored by the district obtain written authorization to fundraise. Programs that require ongoing fundraising efforts need to form a booster club or organization that meets school standards. Fundraising activities should not generally involve direct door-to-door sales or donation solicitation.
These funds raised by various sports or activities could be used to cover participation fee charges, to hire coaches not permitted by budgeting constraints, to buy uniforms and equipment not covered by the program's budget, to cover travel costs and event participation outside the regular conference and section schedules, and to cover the cost of coaching clinics or other training not already covered.
This year $100,000 was raised to help cover some of the $860,000 cut from the athletic and activities budget.
JODIE TWEED may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5858.
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