School fees could rise
The district’s administration is recommending an increase in the cost of a ticket to see high school sporting events, and it’s recommending higher prices for hot lunch.
And some school board members are interested in raising the athletics fee. The fee hike would pay for a new sport—girls hockey.
School board member Tim Cullen wants to dump all those ideas. He proposed Tuesday night that the district keep fees right where they are.
Speaking at Tuesday’s school board meeting, Cullen asked Superintendent Tom Evert to come up with a list of budget cuts or other savings that would do away with the need for the fee hikes.
The school board discussed the proposals Tuesday. It is scheduled to vote at its next meeting April 22.
Here’s an overview of the proposed fee increases for Janesville public school families:
The cost of fuel has affected the cost of food. Costs to provide hot lunch were 6 percent higher this year than expected, said Deb Goad, manager of food services.
“It’s hitting us hard,” Goad said.
The highest cost increases are in fresh fruits, vegetables and dairy, the very things the lunch program tries to emphasize, Goad said.
The federal lunch subsidies have not kept up with costs, Goad said.
Officials said they need the increase to stave off budget problems in the years ahead.
The last time lunch prices increased was fall 2005.
The administration proposed raising the price of sports tickets from $3 to $5 for adults and $2 to $3 for students. The cost of a high school athletics pass would not change.
The added revenue—about $40,000—would pay to replace uniforms next school year, officials said.
The alternative to finding more money would be to cut a sport, something the administration doesn’t want to do, said Steve Johnson, director of human and administrative resources.
The school board has cut $80,000 from the athletics budget in the past two years. To balance the athletics budget, no teams got new uniforms this year.
Uniforms are replaced on a rotating schedule, with different sports’ uniforms being replaced on different years to spread out the costs, officials explained.
The $40,000 would restore annual funding for uniforms in the budget, officials said.
The increases would mean all Big Eight Conference schools would be charging the same ticket prices, something endorsed by Big Eight officials.
Board member Todd Bailey said he’d like to see students allowed in for free. He’d also like to let parents of the athletes see their children’s games for free.
The athletics fee would have to be raised from the current $50 to $62 to pay the estimated cost of the girls hockey program that the board approved March 24.
A memo from Johnson and athletics director Kevin Porter notes that the current athletics fee generates $93,000 a year—well above the original estimate of $50,000 a year—but none of that money is returned directly to high school athletics.
“Although it is clearly understood the money raised from the fee goes into the general fund, which in turn supports athletics, it is sometimes difficult to explain to interested citizens why revenue raised by the fee does not go directly to support the athletic program,” the memo states.
Board members Bill Sodemann and Lori Stottler said they were interested in setting athletics fees based on the cost of each sport. Stottler said she is interested in adding surcharges to sports that cost more than average. To that end, Stottler asked the administration to prepare a report on the costs of the various sports.
What to cut?
No one at the meeting suggested what the district could cut from its budget in order to stave off the increases. Cullen asked Evert to come up with a plan that did not affect direct services to students, with no cuts of teachers or aides.
Evert decided, by the way, not to increase the registration fees that every family pays. He had proposed raising those fees, too.
“We’re trying to be extremely sensitive to the economic conditions our families are facing,” Evert said.