The proposed fees that charter schools would have to pay to school districts for charter students to participate in extracurricular activities are causing concern with State Charter School Board members.

"I am surprised by these numbers," said board member Julie Adamic.

The board held its regular meeting Thursday at the Utah State Office of Education offices in Salt Lake City.

Depending on district enrollment, Tier 1 sports — football — would cost the charter school $200 to $600 per student, according to USOE data.

"I think that's way too much," said board president Brian Allen, adding he is worried about charter schools being priced out of the system.

Tier 2 sports costs, including baseball, softball, basketball, swimming, diving, wrestling, soccer and volleyball, range from $100 to $300 per student, depending on district enrollment.

Tier 3 sports costs, including golf, tennis, cross country and track, range from $75 to $150, depending on district enrollment.

The proposed extracurricular costs cannot be passed on to the charter students. The charter school would be responsible.

However, the charter school could opt not to have its students participate in sports, said Utah Charter Schools Director Marlies Burns.

She added that charter schools can't pick student by student. "It's all students or none," Burns said.

The proposed costs are in addition to the mainstream schools' regular athletic fees. These fees are set by the individual schools and range, in general, from $50 to $100 for football; $25 to $75 for Tier 2 sports; and $10 to $25 for Tier 3 sports, according to Evan Excell, outgoing executive director of the Utah High School Activities Association.

Charter board members agreed to have Mark Long, the State Charter School Board accountant, crunch the data himself and see how his numbers compare to the USOE figures.

UHSAA officials say there are real costs when it comes to athletics.

Excell said equipment, coaches and transportation all add up. "These costs are absorbed by the school district," Excell said. "Charter schools don't pay for it. And the charter schools are getting funding from the state."

However, Allen said, "It seems a little excessive."

SB36, out of the 2008 Legislature, calls for more guidelines regarding charter students participating in athletics and activities in their mainstream schools.

As a result, USOE has created rules that have gone through two readings by the State Board of Education. The board has requested opinions from others on the issue, including charter school officials. The state board may vote on its proposal in August.


E-mail: astewart@desnews.com