Got a great update on the school board’s fee debate and votes from the president of the Woodson Athletic Booster Club:
I wanted to provide an update on yesterday’s School Board’s FY2018 Budget Vote regarding the proposed $100 athletic fee.
Last night, the School Board passed a $50 “extracurricular activities fee” versus the proposed $100 athletics fee. This $50 activities fee is modeled on a similar annual, one-time fee used in Montgomery County. It is not a per sport/per activity fee. For example, if a student plays on 3 sports, belongs to an honor society, and is the member of 2 clubs, the student only pays FCPS a total of $50 for the year (not $300, which would be $50 for each of the six extracurricular activities).
During the meeting the School Board considered two motions put forth by Braddock District Representative Megan McLaughlin to address the proposed athletics fee. The conversation was extensive and pointed at times, with several board members commenting it was not equitable to only impose a fee on student-athletes. Various School Board members cited the letters and emails they received from the booster clubs and student-athlete families as well as the extensive funding provided by the booster organizations. It was evident our communications resonated with some of the board members.
One motion would have done away with the fee entirely and funded the $1.5M by reducing an unrelated budget reserve. That motion failed because a majority of the board did not support the alternative funding mechanism.
A second motion sought to make the fee more fair by expanding the base of students who would pay the fee to include all staff-led extracurricular activities, not just sports. The basis of this motion was that it was unfair to only place the burden of the fee on one group of students (athletes) when other student groups utilize school facilities and receive funding from the school system. By applying the fee to all extracurricular activities, the financial burden on each student could be decreased to $50 from the proposed $100 athletic fee. This proposal was adopted by the board.
Thanks again to all of you who contacted the School Board on this issue. It will be incumbent upon each of us to see how the activity fee impacts our clubs next year and to be active in the budget process again if need be. In watching the session last night, at least one school board member alluded to the fact that the board did not propose the elimination of any sports in this budget process. Hopefully that is not a precursor of what may be ahead next year.