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Newport Panel Says No to Charging Kids for Extracurriculars



Valley News Correspondent
Friday, October 13, 2017

Newport — The committee that has been studying whether to charge students who participate in extracurricular activities — including sports — at Newport Middle High School has recommended against imposing fees as a means of raising revenue for the school district.

A draft report of the committee’s recommendation was presented to the School Board on Thursday night, but no action was taken on it because the committee itself has not yet voted to adopt it. The committee will formally submit its draft recommendation to the School Board on Nov. 9.

“The committee is opposed to a fee that would simply be used as a revenue source for the general fund,” the 49-page report from the 10-member committee says. “It requests that if a fee is to be charged as a revenue source, the board should establish a specific purpose for the fee. For instance, if the purpose is to offset costs, then the revenue should be attributed to that activity budget line. Alternatively, the fees could go into a trust fund for the purpose of capital improvements for extracurricular activities (a new gym/auditorium).”

The report also recommends finding “an equitable solution” for those students from Goshen and Croydon who participate in extracurricular activities in Newport but are home-schooled or attend private school.

The final recommendation said stipends given to coaches should be removed from the teachers’ collective bargaining agreement because most coaches are not on the teaching staff.

The committee also presented a framework for considerations in creating a fee structure, should the School Board decide to charge fees.

The committee recommended the School Board consider several factors prior to and if it opts to impose a fee. It said the School Board should be aware of the potential for reduced participation in extracurricular activities if students cannot afford to pay; should look at the town’s demographics before setting its rates (50 percent of school district students receive free or reduced lunch rates); seek alternative fund sources, such as grants or donations, before requiring fees; and review fundraising methods. Any instituted fee policy also should have a family maximum cost and a financial hardship waiver process, the committee said.

A survey asking residents if they agreed or disagreed with nine statements on the fee concept garnered 159 responses, with slightly more than 80 percent of respondents from Newport. Overall, 74 percent opposed having the school district charge a fee to Newport students. The survey also showed 77 percent favored a waiver for financial hardship and 75 percent supported a maximum cap per family. Thirty-four percent want those who pay tuition to attend Newport schools to pay a fee and 39 percent want a fee for home-schooled and private school students from Newport. Students from other towns who are home-schooled or attend private school but participate in extracurricular activities in Newport should pay a fee to do so, 47 percent of the respondents said.

The fee committee formed in August after voters in March approved a warrant article for a study to look at charging students for participation in extracurricular activities.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at pogclmt@gmail.com.