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School Committee Will Review Braintree High Activity Fee Cost, Structure

Braintree's activity fee is below average for area schools with fees.

School officials are looking into the possibility of shifting the way families pay the annual fee for participation in sports and other activities at Braintree High School.

Currently, a $150 fee is required for a student to participate in any extra-curricular activity at BHS. It includes all activities for the year and the fee caps at $300 annually for families.

At a significant number of schools in Massachusetts, the fee is instead applied on a scale determined by the actual cost of student participation and by sport rather than per year. For instance, students at North Quincy pay $100 per sport, unless they play football or lacrosse, which cost $150, or ice hockey, which costs $300.

"We need to change our fee structure," School Committee Chair Shannon Hume said earlier this week.

Hume said that $150 for the entire year is "a deal for many people." The issue will be placed on the April 1 meeting agenda for discussion. If the committee makes a change, it would likely take effect starting next school year.

Of the 80 schools in districts C and D, 31 do not charge a fee at all. The average fee of the schools that charge either per year or per sport is $194, placing Braintree well below average when considering that many of those schools use the per sport calculation.

In Weymouth, students pay $200 per sport, or $250 for football and $400 for ice hockey. Randolph does not have an activity fee. Hingham students pay $300 per year with a family cap of $600, or $800 for those who participate in hockey.

Braintree's $150 fee realistically covers the cost of one sport, depending on the type, committee member David Ringius said.

"There is some room for expansion of fees, mindful that we still are in a tough economy," he said.

Sean McDevitt March 21, 2013 at 03:23 PM
Leaving aside the likely reaction some may have ("back in my day, we didn't pay for HS sports and clubs....") and recognizing that activity fees are here to stay not just in Braintree but pretty much everywhere (and no one, myself included likes to pay more) - a few thoughts: Using a per season, per sport approach makes complete sense. Presumably the $150 fee per participant per year was calculated at some past point to cover the average cost of a student's participation in activities - some club/team members have been overpaying and others underpaying as indicated. Furthermore, costs (gas alone) have climbed over the years and the $150 per student fee has not in my memory. So the $150 alone probably needs to move higher on average.
Sean McDevitt March 21, 2013 at 03:24 PM
What would make the most sense is to have a properly calculated cost-based approach. The cost differential across different activities is probably staggering. An after school club that meets at BHS weekly and plans activities directed toward the BHS community and largely within the walls of the building - incurs almost no costs, or some modest advisor stipend and some basic supplies. No buses, equipment, uniforms, officials costs, etc. There are many clubs that fit this description and whose members on a cost basis should probably pay only some nominal fee. On the opposite end of the spectrum are some other sports and activities for which there are considerable expenses.
Sean McDevitt March 21, 2013 at 03:25 PM
Any revenue generated should also be considered (e.g game-day receipts for tickets if applicable) to arrive at a NET cost. To be illustrative - if ticket sales cover a reasonable portion of the cost of a program, one could accurately describe football or hockey as a modest or lower cost sport despite the fact that they have higher expenses.
Sean McDevitt March 21, 2013 at 03:32 PM
Now, having different fees for each of what are likely 75 or more activities and sports would be insane, not to mention an administrative nightmare to track. One could imagine 4-6 different tiers of fees. Annual BHS low costs clubs <$50/year, etc. This would be an equitable approach based on usage/consumption/costs. Much like tolls. Pay as you go (or not). There can still be a family maximum. There can be a protocol established to accommodate families without means in a form of aid so that the kids are not prevented from playing/participating. A reasonable estimate cane be made for those cases and built in to the cost figures.
Sean McDevitt March 21, 2013 at 03:35 PM
In sum, if the fees need to rise, understand and begrudgingly agree. But we should pursue an implementation approach that is cost-based and fair and equitable, limiting cross-subsidies, while ensuring that those in difficult circumstances are not excluded. Apologies for the multiple posts but the submission form has character limits.
Tyler Seguin March 21, 2013 at 03:54 PM
curious as to how much money this adds up to and to know what the costs are. before any increase is considered, think that needs to be spelled out. if the current fees aren't covering the costs, then of course, it needs to be raised. however, if this is just another case of "well everyone else is charging more so we should too", then it is unfair to raise the fees. dig some for us, Joe M!
Sean McDevitt March 21, 2013 at 04:00 PM
Tyler - agree with you 100%. I should have stated that up front. Howver, even if fees ARE covering costs and the $150 is enough...the average allocation seems unfair.
Sean McDevitt March 23, 2013 at 12:15 AM
Some additional comments - the fees paid simply cannot to cover the whole athletic department costs...they can only help defray costs. Even all ~1500 students at BHS paid the $150 fee, that is only ~$225,000. That has to be a fraction of what the coaching, equipment, transportation, etc. truly cost for ~40 sports. So there really are two issues: #1 what portion of the costs should fees make up? and #2 how to be more equitable?

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