No Decision Yet On Pay-to-Play in Newport

Valley News Correspondent
Friday, November 10, 2017

Newport — The School Board on Thursday night accepted, but did not act on, a report from a school district study committee that recommends against charging students a fee to participate in extracurricular activities as a way to raise revenue.

Committee Co-chairmen Jeff Miller, the athletic director at the middle high school, and Brad Palmer presented the report and the roughly seven weeks’ worth of work that went into it.

“We discussed everything, from one side to the other,” Miller said. “We truly vetted every scenario. We didn’t think (fees) would be the way to go to fund extracurricular activities.

Those activities would include everything from sports to the math and debate teams.

Miller said that after waivers were granted for those students who receive free or reduced lunch, the district would stand to make about $17,000 on a budget of $260,000 for extracurricular activities.

“That is not all that much,” he said.

Committee member P.J. Lovely, the town’s recreation director, pointed out that any administrative expenses incurred while collecting the fee would have to be deducted from that revenue.

“The $17,000 will get really small quick,” Lovely said.

The committee also recommended the district find an “equitable solution” for home-schooled and private school students from town such as Goshen and Croydon, who do not live in Newport but participate in extracurricular activities in the town.

If the district did decide to charge a fee, the committee recommended it consider several factors, including the district’s free and reduced lunch rate of 50 percent; the possibility of low extracurricular activity participation; a maximum per-family cost cap; and waivers for financial hardships.

Board members did not comment on the recommendations, but they commended the committee for producing a comprehensive report.

“It is one of the best written studies I’ve seen,” board member Virginia Irwin said.

A decision is expected next month, Superintendent Cindy Gallagher said.