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Fees, cuts save school sports

Despite deep budget cuts, middle school extracurricular activities will exist next year.

The Snoqualmie Valley School District presented its plan to pay for activities at its three middle schools to the school board, Thursday, June 25.

The district will be able to pay for the programs’ $339,527 cost by instituting participation fees and a 20 percent cut in coaches’ salaries, among other changes.

“It’s not perfect, but it does come pretty close to maintaining what our kids have,” Superintendent Joel Aune said.

The district will also generate additional revenue by increasing the cost for Associated Student Body cards by $15, reducing the number of events and games, and offering one-way transportation to events.

Participation fees will be $50 for most sports, jazz band and drama club. Football will cost $100. Other clubs will cost $35. There will be no cost for homework club.

The district is in new territory with the plan, and several questions remain about how it will work.

“We don’t know if $50 is a good number or if $40 is a better number. We just don’t know that,” said Assistant Superintendent Don McConkey, who led the plan’s development.

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The district wanted to keep fees low to minimize any affect on participation. There are no caps on fees per student or family. The district did keep its “no cut” policy.

Several cost variables remain, McConkey noted.

Gas prices will affect transportation costs, which have been reduced by only offering buses for students to events.

Also, many bus drivers could be receiving a scheduled five percent raise next year, which would raise transportation costs.

While coaches agreed to a 20 percent pay cut, the district does not know how many coaches and club advisors will be moving up in their pay schedule next year.

The district also recommended reinstating the after-school activity bus and providing scholarships for extracurricular activities.

The availability of an activity bus could have a significant affect on participation at Chief Kanim Middle School in Fall City and Twin Falls Middle School in North Bend.

“I think that’s a must for us out here,” said school board member Rudy Edwards.

Community volunteers will be vital to making the program work, McConkey said.

One group is already at work.

Parents raised over $1,500 for the middle schools at a three-on-three basketball tournament at CKMS, Saturday, June 20.

The money will help provide scholarships at the each of the Valley’s middle schools, said Becky Evanson, the event’s organizer.

She proposed that the district give parents the option to pay for another student when signing up their own child.

“There are a lot of parents who’d have no problem paying that second $50,” she said.

The district will still be working out some details as the plan is implemented next year.

One parent raised a concern about safety given the possible number of participants to coaches, such as with cross country, which had 46 students at one middle school for the 2008-’09 school year. Under the district’s plan cross country will have only one coach.

The district has not set a participation threshold for offering an activity.

“Do we offer it if there’s only three kids or five kids who want to be in the green club or the cooking club?” board member Dan Bopp asked.

The district will consider it, McConkey replied.

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