September 21, 2014

Medina
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Buckeye Local school board reduces pay-to-play fees

YORK TWP.— New Buckeye Local school board member Jon Stahl’s first motion as a board member Tuesday night brought him something some board members go their entire careers without hearing: applause.

That’s because his first act was to put forth a resolution to lower pay-to-partici­pate fees retroactive to fall 2010 sports, including band. The motion passed unani­mously.

Stahl

Stahl

About 250 Buckeye athletes and band members will be reim­bursed a portion of their pay-to-participate fees after they were lowered from $600 to $395 at the high school and from $450 to $295 at the junior high.

“This will ease some of the burden of the parents and increase participa­tion,” Stahl said. “That’s what will move Buckeye forward.” Superintendent Dennis Honkala said Thursday that he and Athletic Director Glen Reisner are still working out the details of how the students and their fami­lies will be repaid.

Students may have the option of putting the money toward a second or third sport, he said, in which case they would not get a check in the mail.

“We have several students on payment plans,” Honkala said. “A lot of the work is going to be to alter those payment plans.

“It’s going to be a couple of weeks before we iron everything out.”

The fees are back to where they were last year before an increase. High school ath­letes and band participants will now pay $395 for their first activity, $295 for their second and $195 for their third. At the jun­ior high, students will pay $295, $195 and $95, respec­tively.

There is a cap of $1,600 per family.

The resolution did not waive fees for students who are on federal free lunch programs, even though that was part of the original deal, because booster club members at the meeting said the clubs would be able to help support stu­dents who struggle economi­cally.

The resolution came min­utes after the board voted to take a 1 percent earned income tax off the Nov. 2 ballot.

Treasurer Carolyn Weglewski presented an updated five-year forecast for the district, which showed Buckeye does not have a $1.2 million deficit as previ­ously advertised, and that the district is in fact about $6,200 in the black.

The newfound money, Weglewski said, came mostly from delinquent taxes that were collected and federal stimulus funds.

The Ohio Department of Education placed Buckeye on fiscal caution in April 2009, which means the state now looks over the district’s finances each month. Buckeye voters have not approved new operating money in 16 years.

The projected surplus, how­ever, assumed a zero-percent increase in staff and other expenses. By refunding Buck­eye’s nearly 255 fall student athletes between $150 and $200 each, the district will lose between $40,000 and $50,000.

As part of her financial pro­jections, Weglewski said the district would have made an additional $90,000 if pay-to­-participate fees had stayed at $450 for junior high and $600 for high school students. Despite that loss, Weglewski said Thursday that with lower fees, participation will hope­fully go up, making the overall loss smaller.

The board also informally made a recommendation to the superintendent on Tuesday to come to the next board meeting with a list of personnel he feels should be brought back.

While an accurate prediction about the district’s financial future is difficult to make, Board President Gary Horton said he hopes to not have to raise the fees back up to $600 any time in the near future.

“We’ve had a steady decline in participation, although this fall has been fairly even, except for band,” Horton said. “In light of the positive changes in revenue recently, we believed we could help some of the fam­ilies in this district to return these fees to a more reasonable level.”

Reisner declined comment for this story.

Contact Jennifer Pignolet at (330) 721-4063 or jpignolet@medina-gazette.com.