Geneseo parents will still have to pay for their middle- and high-school students to participate in activities, but the fee won’t be nearly as steep as initially proposed.

Geneseo parents will still have to pay for their middle- and high-school students to participate in activities, but the fee won’t be nearly as steep as initially proposed.

Originally, the board had considered a $50-per-activity fee, but numerous parents were opposed to that figure.

“I heard a myriad of comments, both on social media and in person at places like Fareway and the gas station,” said school superintendent Scott Kuffel. “All feedback is appreciated.”

The district instead opted to return to an activity fee structure that had been in place in the district as recently as the 2011-12 school year.

Under that structure, GHS and GMS students who participate in activities will be charged a one-time $25 fee, regardless of the number of activities in which they participate.

The activity fee plan, approved by school board members at the Thursday, Feb. 8 meeting, calls for the $25 charge to be in place the next two school years. In the third year (2019-20) the annual fee will jump to $30 for middle school students and $35 for high school students. The fourth year (2020-21) will see the fee increase to $35 for GMS students and $50 at GHS.

The fees are a way to increase the district’s revenue as board members look to eliminate a $1.2 million education fund deficit.

While the earlier $50-an-activity proposal would exempt free and reduced lunch students from owing the fee, no exemptions will be given for the new fee.

“We won’t have any waivers. If there is a hardship, the students can apply to the boosters, or I’m sure we’d have community members willing to cover the fee,” said Kuffel.

School district business official Tim Gronski said there is a 65 percent participation rate in extra curricular activities for students in grades 6-12.

The approved participation fees are expected to generate $103,000 cumulatively over three years.

Parent Jason Yost, who has three children in the school district, attended the board meeting and said he was opposed to the original $50-per-activity proposal. “That could be pretty large for some households,” he said, but added he was “in agreement” with the $25 annual fee.

Some participants also could face additional fees for certain activities.

Athletes whose uniforms are laundered by school staff may face a $10-per-sport laundry fee. Kuffel said the district spends $45,000 to $50,000 on laundry annually.

Board members also are considering adding a $10-per-semester fee for those participating in family and consumer science classes or art classes at GHS.

“Those are costly programs. We pay $30,000 a year just in supplies for those programs,” said Kuffel.

The proposed $10-a-semester fee would generate $26,395 in revenue cumulatively over three years as a way to help offset the cost

of supplies.

At the Feb. 8 meeting, board members also voted to increase registration fees for the next three years.

The $99 registration rate K-8 parents paid this year would go to $120 (2018-19), then increase to $123 the following year and $126 in the 2020-21 school year.

At the high school, the current $111 registration fee would increase to $132 (2018-19), $135 (2019-20) and $138 (2020-21).

The district is increasing fees as a way to try and balance “what’s best for the kids verses what’s best for the citizen taxpayers who don’t have children in the district,” said Kuffel.

“It’s a $1.2 million challenge,” he said, adding the district isn’t expecting any additional funds from the state under the new evidence-based funding model.

“We have too much property wealth and not enough poor kids (for additional state funding),” Kuffel explained.

Ultimately, the solution to the district’s financial woes may be a referendum to increase either the education fund tax rate or the special education fund tax rate.

“There will come a time when we can’t borrow or cut any more,” said Kuffel.

In addition to approving activity and registration fees, the school board voted to issue $4 million in working cash bonds. The bonds represent money the district is borrowing to cover financial shortfalls.

Also at the Feb. 8 meeting:

• Board members heard a proposal from middle school band teacher John Versluis to implement an instrumental repair/rental fee for students using school district instruments. Versluis said the fee is already in place at the high school, but he would like to see it expanded to the middle school. Versluis said 25-30 GMS students use school-district owned instruments.

• The board rejected all bids for a new concession stand at the high school. “The base bids came in 30 percent higher than we’d budgeted,” said Gronski, adding the majority of the cost overages were in the HVAC system. Gronski said engineers and architects for the district will reduce the scope of the project in hopes of receiving more favorable bids.