The governing board of the Chandler Unified School District approved a new range of fees for extracurricular activities at Chandler schools.
The fees cover athletics, performing arts such as band and spiritline or any other extracurricular activity, and help to offset the expenses of running the activity, according to the district.
The primary reason for the fees has to do with tax credits. Currently, taxpayers can receive a $400 tax credit by donating to schools. However, the fees were needed in order to make those activities tax credit eligible.
“The attorney general believed that the fees needed to be higher in order to qualify for tax credit in those particular activities,” board president Bob Rice said. “If we didn’t charge some reasonable fees, then parents didn’t have access to the tax credit ability to provide more money for the activity.”
There are two types of fees. One is for participation while the other is for field trips.
The participation fees, which vary from anywhere from $20 for one student per activity to a maximum of $450 for a family, cover the cost of participating in a particular activity. Gilbert Public Schools charge $100 per sport while the Tempe Union High School District charges $50 per sport.
The field trip fee ranges from $65 or less for elementary students, to up to $1,500 for high school students taking an out-of-state or overnight trip.
However, those fees can be waived by the principal if it creates an economic hardship for the family.
The system works like this: a team wants to take a trip to California that costs $50,000 for 50 students and the trip fee for that team was $300 per student. Three-hundred dollars multiplied by 50 students equals $15,000, so the team already has $15,000 to put toward the trip.
With that $15,000 in hand, an additional $35,000 would have to be raised in order for the team to go on the trip. If the additional money is not raised, the principal will not sign off on the trip.
The fees will affect schools on all levels but especially football teams that travel out of state. One example is Hamilton High School’s football team, which travels to Henderson, Nev., to play Liberty High School.
“Every fee affects everything we do, so we’ll just have to see how it all plays out,” Hamilton coach Steve Belles said. “It will kind of affect the kind of decisions we make and what we choose to do or can do.”
One area that will be heavily affected by the new fees is the rule changes for how booster clubs are able to contribute. Under the new rules, booster clubs cannot donate directly to the activity they wish to fund. Instead, they would have to give their donation to the district, which would in turn put the money in an account for that activity.
This also affects teams like Hamilton, which is already “almost self-sufficient,” Belles said.
“We don’t really get uniforms from the district, so we got to have a good booster club to make sure our kids are taken care of,” Belles said. “A lot of that is due to either our Nike deal or we just raise funds to get uniforms for our kids.”
Rice said ultimately it falls on the districts to pay for the things related to extracurricular activities.
“If it’s a school-related activity, for instance some kind of trip … the schools need to be paying those amounts and not through the parent groups,” Rice said. “In order to make that happen, the parents really have to donate that money to the school district.”
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