USD 489 discusses decreasing some fees, adding pay-to-play

Hays Post

As the school year approaches, Hays USD 489 school board members discussed decreasing some fees and possibly adding a pay-to play fee at Monday’s work session.

In an effort to close the more than $1 million budget gap the district has been facing, board members voted in May to increase workbook/materials fees by $60,  approved an activity fee increase of $50, a kindergarten fee of $150, and agreed to the the non-renewal of 16 teaching positions.

The fee increases, would provide nearly $195,000 in revenue for the district.

“To clear things up, when (administration) said (the fee increases) would not have an effect on the general fund, indirectly it does have an effect … but I can’t recommend hiring teachers back,” said Katt noting the fee increases were not intended to be permanent and were just approved for the 2014-15 school year.

Director of Curriculum Shanna Dinkel said the revenue from the fees could be used for any funds that are classroom-related such as supplies and textbooks.

Katt said hiring teacher aides for the larger elementary classes is also a possibility.

Board member Sarah Rankin said she is concerned because she believed the fee increases, combined with the now-failed local option budget increase, were initially intended to reduce classroom size in elementary classes.

The 1 percent LOB increase would have provided a steady $200,000 each year for the district, but was rejected by voters on June 27.

“If (hiring teachers back) is no longer what we are trying to fund, then is it reasonable (to still have the fee increases)? … I think not,” said Rankin.

Rankin said the feedback she has heard from the public is not focused on the kindergarten fee.

“It is the parents of multiple children looking at the fees times two,” she said.

Rankin  suggested the board  think about decreasing the activity fees to $25,  the workbook/materials fee to $30, and adding a $25 dollar “pay-to-participate” fee.

Hays High School Principal Marty Straub expressed concern about the pay-to-participate fee and asked if the fee would be for students playing sports or for all activities such as band and choir.

“I think we would lose kids (participating in activities) because when you look at the fundraising they already do, those students who can’t afford it are already doing what they can do,” said Straub, noting it is already the responsibility of the parents/students to pay for many items such as cheerleading and choir uniforms.

The board agreed to continue discussion of the fees and placed it on the agenda for the July 21 board meeting.


  • About time

    I’m 100% with adding pay to play to sports. It’s about time we added a fee to help fund those activities outside of the classroom. In regards to Straub saying some students might not be able to come up with the $25, then well, I guess you don’t play. I’d rather have the fee for something like that then really high increased fees for enrollment. I’m required to pay for enrollment for all my kids. If money is tight though, then at least I can decide for the optional activities like sports.

  • Suggestion

    One reason I think the LOB failed is misinformation. Even a board member (above) was confused on proposed school fees. Basically, Hays voters do not go to board meetings. The year is 2014…..we get a lot of our information from social media. One would think the school board would have a representative post on here in a ‘Moderator’ format to correct all the misinformation in the blog posts and answer voter questions. A few corrected posts might have provided the difference in it passing and doesn’t cost anything whereas the special election alone was $20k.

    • numbers

      what misinformation? i understood it fully. so did a lot of other taxpayers. people may have voted for the 1% but when schwartz pops off the board will favor jumping it to 3% they said no. no misinformation there. people got it. they voted no. now the board needs to get it.

    • Guest

      What do you mean that a board member did not understand the fees? Sounds like she understood them. A one year increase in fees is not enough to bring back teachers but does provide funding for other areas. The idea with the LOB is the school would have had a steady stream of money every year to fund the salary of one or two teachers. The LOB did not fail because of misinformation or lack of information. The district had tons of information on their website. Plus it did not help that Schwartz said the board would ‘most likely” jump to 3% without listening to a community who was saying they would vote for 1% and not 3% was not a very good idea.

      • Informed

        Where did this community say they would vote for 1% and not 3%? All I saw was this thing failing 2 to 1. This from all of you that support education. NO YOU DO NOT. You can say you do all you want, but when given the opportunity, they sent a resounding NO. Why did they vote no? Nobody on here or anywhere can say for sure unless you take a survey of all the voters. I think it was they are still tired of all of the whining employees that just want more money when they are some of the highest paid in the state. Fix your budget keep cutting the waste and then we can talk. Why would you support 1% forever but not 3% for one year? Answer this and go ahead and include how this makes you a supporter of education. I would guess you support the concept of education, but you do not support the concept of paying for it. This community is getting what it deserves. I don’t like somebody on the board or several of them, so I am going to take it out on the students. Great logic.

        • Facts

          They aren’t whining employees. The teachers are very supportive of the kids and have contributed a lot to education. Why don’t you become a teacher, keep up your license, pay those college loans, and live off what a teacher makes. If it was so grand, everyone would be doing it. You don’t think a cost of living increase once in a while is justified? Find a company where someone never gets an increase and I’ll say ‘high turnover’. The budget issue is due to bad planning in past administration, the governor cutting school funding for years to nothing, and increased operating costs.

  • Get along people

    Don’t care what you say sports brings a lot of pride to a school, city and community. Some areas this is all they have. Nobody has ever said it is more important than education but the truth is that it is part of a childhood education. Don’t hate the player hate the game. You guys that post on here about tax the sports, make them pay big, charge them for wearing a sports t-shirt —- need to face reality, sports are a part of life. Good grief look at NCAA level of sports. Look right here in our own state, K-state for example look at all the construction going on at their sports facilites. Most of this money coming from people who got good education at a school they have pride in. Lets work together to fund these kids education, and still be able to enjoy a competitive Friday night sporting event rather it be basketball, football, baseball or whatever sport season it maybe.

    • Reality

      Nobody on here said with regard to sports to ‘make them pay big’. Do you really think $25 is out of the question? Why should we tack that onto enrollment??? Sports is not 100% paid for, it is partially funded by taxpayers. I don’t think asking players to kick in $25 to play a sport is asking too much and will help to reduce our deficit.

    • sportsguy

      sounds good. now how much do we put you down for?

      • Taxpayer

        You’ve already got me for $6k+ on property taxes. If it went to education, I’d support more.

  • Need to be open-minded folks

    Thank goodness someone (Marty Straub) is thinking of the students on the pay-to-play issue. Students already “pay-to-play” when they are required by their coaches to sell $100 worth (at least) of discount cards per year as well as other fundraisers. There are plenty of studies that show students who participate in extracurricular activities (sports, band, choir, etc.) are better students. While $25 may not seem a lot for some folks, it could be the deciding factor for some families, particularly families with more than one child in extracurricular activities, and considering the already increased fees for “public” education.

    • Parent in Hays

      If it’s such a pain for you to do some fundraising and kick in $25 to play a sport, maybe you should rethink your child playing sports. Should the taxpayers kick in that $25 on their property taxes-NO. Should the parents that enroll their kids pay that $25-NO. What makes you so special that you can’t do a little more in this difficult time when funding is at an all time low?

      • Need to be open-minded folks

        “Parent in Hays,” my family is blessed that we CAN do the fundraising and support our children in all of their extracurricular activities (sports, music); however, there are young people out there who are not so blessed; that look forward to the outlet of sports and music in their lives; that may not have the support of family. No compassion, it seems?

        • Parent in Hays

          No compassion, really? So it’s ok to put that burden on the parents of kids at enrollment, ones who may not be so blessed as you put it, so others can play sports? Self righteous if you ask me.

          • Guest

            Those who “may not be so blessed” are already getting reduced or free lunches and their enrollment fees are reduced accordingly. We wouldn’t be tacking much, if anything, additional on to those folks at enrollment. It’s those who “have been blessed” who would be footing the additional bill for those “not so blessed” to be able to participate in extra-curricular activities. So, yes, where is your compassion?

          • Taxed out

            If you want to go out for sports and can’t afford it, then too bad. Plain and simple. The taxpayer doesn’t need to pay for it. The parent at enrollment doesn’t need to pay for it. What’s with this sense of entitlement?

          • Curious

            You do understand that this pay to play concept will not generate very much money. There were 367 kids out for sports last school year at HHS. If every participant paid $25 then that would only generate $9,175, or if the average was 2 sports then a little over 18k would be collected. Fundraising for HHS athletics last year was $130,000. All studies indicate that pay to play greatly decreases fundraising involvement and collection. If the studies are correct then how would pay to play be a better option?

          • passin_threw

            Don’t use facts and logic to the detractors, they won’t understand.

          • Tired of taxes

            Studies indicate that Hays taxpayers and school parents are tired of footing the bill so someone’s kid can play football for free. Even if the fee only generates 9k or 18k, then at least they are contributing some. And no, adding a small pay to play fee is not going to affect fundraising. Try a different argument. And pushing that 9k to 18k on the backs of parents at enrollment is not the right thing to do. You want to play a sport or two or three, then you kick in a little to do that. No one rides for free.

          • Curious

            I guess my idea of free and yours are two different things. Total sports cost for USD 489 equals 360k, sports fundraising equals 130k, gate sales equals 100k. The 130k goes directly toward funding the program and gate sales go back to the district to be used how they see fit. In other words, gate sales alone reimburse the district approx 1/3 of their out of pocket expense. I fail to see where LOB monies are footing this bill in its entirety. You want a pay to play, fine, just stop saying that the sports program is funded by taxpayers alone. It is almost equally funded by parents, fans, athletes, coaches and businesses.

          • Jim

            Does a student who signs up for football pay a fee to play? NO. Therefore, it is FREE. I do understand your point, but the other post is correct in that it does not cost to sign up for one or more sports. That needs to change. As far as your figures, no one on here knows how you got those or if you just made them up. A link does it justice, otherwise, I could post random figures to benefit my argument too.

          • Curious

            Depends on how you look at it…the kid who signs up for football is required to bring the coach $200. That $200 can be a direct payment or the kid can choose to sell Gold Cards to raise the money. Either way, that kid/family has a $200 responsibility if they want to be on the football team. So no, the kid doesn’t pay money at enrollment time or at football sign up, but the kid does have a monetary responsibility with a deadline and is Paying to Play/Raising Money to Play.
            I wish I had a link for you but I’m not sure where to find those specifics on the web. The district released all the info I stated at board meetings, which I attend, and HaysPost printed all the same info I stated a month or so ago. It’s not made up but you can deny it all you want. Do those numbers shock you or what is your questioning?

          • Sports parent

            My kids have went out for sports in middle school and high school over the last few years here in Hays and have NEVER been given an ultimatum to ‘sell gold cards or pay $200 cash’. Now my kids specifically haven’t went out for football in high school, but the other sports have been free for my kids to sign up and play with no selling requirement.

          • True

            Cornelson most certainly had that expectation. It wasn’t that you were kicked off the team if you didn’t meet your goal but it was expected. Curious was only referring to football so I’m not sure why you are trying to contradict his/her post? Especially when your kids never played high school football…???

          • Taxpayer

            Your self-righteousness, lack of intelligence and lack of compassion is frightening. And yet, you walk among us and the constitution allows you to vote….. scary.
            Let’s extend your line of thought just a bit. So, if a person can’t pay their share of the expenses at their church, “too bad” they’re tossed out? What if we adopted “pay to play” and divided the expense of building and maintaining all the roads in Ellis County pro rata, assessing all drivers that fee? That would be about $7.5 million per the 2014 budgets, and of the 20,000 or so people over 18 who couldn’t pay the new $375 fee, “too bad,” they wouldn’t be allowed to drive? Of course not. Taxes gather revenue from several sources and steer them to provide essential services that individually would be prohibitively expensive.
            Sports are less than 2% of USD 489’s budget. It’s a trivial matter. Sports are here to stay. Pay to play is dead. Move on.

          • Time for change

            HaHaHa. You are a joke. You said taxes are for essential services. So sports are essential? Me and a lot of other people in Hays are tired of paying taxes in so people can play football. Our school is in the red big time and needs to stop the bleeding now. Pay to play is NOT dead. The board is seriously discussing it at the next meeting and my vote is YES. How about you move on :)

    • Commentor

      I agree. Sports are just an extension of the class room. Maybe more kids should get involved to learn all the great things sports teach them. Some of these life lessons are learning to get along with others, being a team player (not just thinking of yourself), being positive, letting go of mistakes, win and lose with dignity, and practice makes you better. Now days children aren’t allowed to lose at anything because the parents can’t handle it. Everyone gets a participation ribbon and real world lessons are never learned. I am not saying that sports are the only way to learn great life lessons, but they sure are a fun way to learn while doing something enjoyable.

      • Reality

        No matter how important you feel sports are, with the budget issues at hand and taxpayers taxed out, there is no reason at all the kids that want to play can’t pay $25 to help out. Lastly, I was out for sports when I was in middle and high school. I was the kid who was smart in class, but not very good at sports. My life lesson learned…..sports aren’t fair and you can attend every practice and be kind to others, but that doesn’t guarantee you a spot in the game. In fact, one sport I was out for in middle school, I never even played once. I’ve seen parents at baseball practice in Hays yell obscenities at other kids and the coaches and come down extremely hard on their own kids. I’m not buying the sports golden halo that you are selling.