Tabernacle’s board of education had its first meeting of the new school year on Aug. 15, with much of the session revolving around a proposed increase in students’ sports and club/activity fees.
According to the agenda, the initial proposed sport fee was $75 and the club/activity fee was $40. District officials confirmed that last year’s student fees were $50 and $35, respectively, for each sport or club.
Also on the agenda was a $150 limit on what a single student could be charged for participating in multiple sports or clubs in a single year, meaning that even if a student joined enough activities to surpass $150 in fees, he or she would still only be charged the maximum. No household or family limit was introduced or passed during the meeting.
After intense discussion among board members – followed by public comment – an amendment was approved to reduce the proposed $75 sport fee to $60. The increases in both fees to $60 for each sport and $40 for each club or activity and the limit of $150 per child per year all passed unanimously.
According to Business Administrator Patricia Palmieri, the district allocates just under $100,000 a year for the operations of both sports and activities in the district, an amount that costs the district more than it makes through the two each year. The increase, district officials said, is an attempt to ensure that various expenses for operating such extracurriculars – busing, uniforms and officials, among others – are covered throughout the year.
“The fees that are paid do not offset or cover the activity or sport that they are for; the fee helps defer the costs,” Palmeri said during the meeting. “I did do an analysis of all the different activities and all the different sports, and we are at a severe deficit in every one.
“We discussed that the fees had not been raised for a period of time now … “ she added. “I don’t want to bring to the board at this time the cutting of any sport or extracurricular activity yet, but down the road we might have to … raise the prices.”
According to Superintendent Shaun Banin, the district now has 13 sports and approximately 15 clubs or activities. Board member Megan Jones reminded meeting attendees that families who qualify for free or reduced lunch for the 2022-’23 school year can also have their sport or activity fee waived.
For that reason, Jones recommended that parents interested in having their children join a sport or extracurricular activity fill out a free and reduced lunch registration form to see if they qualify, especially now that assistance from the federal government for lunches has ended.
“It is the hope of me, and I hope the rest of the board, that every family will fill it out even if you don’t think you qualify, because we want to make sure that everyone has a chance to remove the stigma,” Jones said.
A proposal to have district art teacher Stephanie McMullen engage in school beautification projects was also approved at the meeting. Projects include two murals at Kenneth R. Olson Middle School that Banin said he hopes will be completed before the new school year.
“One of the big things we’ve tried to do in recent years was find ways to make our buildings look better for our students, staff and our community … “ he explained. “We’ve made certain upgrades and improvements in recent years, but one of our art teachers proposed making two murals within the school that focus on bringing out more aspects of the area we’re around. That way, when students are walking through our halls, they’re not just white slabs of concrete.”
The district’s next meeting will be Monday, Sept. 19, starting at 6:30 p.m. at Olson.