School district eliminating pay-to-participate fees for student activities

Less than 24 hours after voters approved the Hamilton Southeastern Schools referendum, the school district started making changes.

In an email sent Wednesday afternoon to district officials, Mike Reuter, chief financial officer for the district, announced that the district’s program participation fees for extracurricular activities would be eliminated starting with the 2016-2017 school year.

School officials previously said the fees could be reduced or eliminated if the proposed referendum of 22.75 cents per $100 of assessed value passed.

Voters overwhelming supported the new tax rate Tuesday. It will cost the owner of a $250,000 home about $303 annually for seven years. The district estimates it will generate $17 million in annual funding, which also will help schools add more teachers and assistant principals.

In prior presentations to the HSE School Board, budget estimates showed that eliminating the pay-to-participate fees would cost $100,000.

The fees are charged for students in high school or middle school participating in extracurricular activities, including sports. They can run hundreds of dollars per family, depending on family income and the number of students per family involved in a sport or program. The fee for a single student participating in one sport can be as high as $160.

The district added the fees in 2014 as a way to help close a $5 million budget gap that had been projected for the next two years.

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