The Granite Board of Education refused Tuesday night to approve requests to raise participation fees for high school drill teams, dance clubs and football players.
The increases were requested by the district's high school principals, based on recommendations of school personnel who work with these groups.The proposed increases would have included a rise from $600 to $650 for each member of a drill team; from $100 to $200 for dance club members; and from $150 to $175 for football players who choose to buy equipment "packages."
Board members were concerned that the continuous increase in fees required for these special high school activities would bar many students from participation.
"Those prices create elitist organizations to which only the rich can belong," said board member Lynn Davidson. At the same time, he said, he is concerned that Granite schools would be unable to compete if the district sets unrealistic fee schedules while other districts continue to spend more on costumes and related equipment. Some are expecting as much as $1,200 per drill team member.
Davidson said he will re-open the issue with the Utah School Activities Association this spring.
The district policy requires that any student who wants to participate but does not have the money to pay a fee can get the money from the district. That could become expensive for the district as rising fees put activities out of range for more families, said board member Judy Lar-son. As a practical matter, however, many parents simply refuse to let their children participate when the costs become too high.
"It's a matter that's been long debated. I have a hard time seeing why it takes that much to run these programs," said board member J. Dale Christensen. "We have a moral obligation to make these programs available to all students."
Board member Patricia G. Sandstrom suggested the schools slightly increase their charges for plays, musicals and dance reviews to help offset the costs of the programs.
The district has had severe budget restraints for the past few years and has not been able to increase expenditures for vital programs. The schools should feel the same obligation to hold down costs, Christensen said. He suggested that schools should work toward building up wardrobes that can be used more than one year.
The board voted to stick with last year's figures. The amounts per student also must include donations and money raised by the groups, aside from personal contributions, board members said. They also called for better oversight and reporting on the fees in each school.