Chelsea school board approves budget with pay-to-play sports
Students in the Chelsea School District will have to pay next year if they want to participate in sports and clubs.
The school board Monday night approved a budget for the next school year that institutes a $100 fee to participate in high school sports and a $50 fee for middle school sports. High school students will also have to pay $25 to participate in clubs. There is a $300 maximum charge per family.
The new fees are among measures taken to balance the district's budget in this economically challenging time for school districts. Superintendent David Killips said pay-to-play will save the district $60,000 a year.
Virtually all districts have had to make significant budget cuts to deal with shrinking state revenue and rising costs. Many, like Chelsea, are also struggling with declining enrollment. That has a big financial cost because the state doles out money to schools on a per-pupil basis.
The Chelsea School District anticipates having 50 fewer students than the 2,600 it had this year. Killips said this means that the district could receive $350,000 less next year from the state. “So it will have a significant impact on our budget,” he said.
Teresa Zigman, the district's executive director of finance, said the budget has benefitted from older teachers and staff taking retirement incentives offered by the state. A total of 36 teachers and staff members took the retirement incentive, Zigman said.
The district expects to have 11 fewer teachers next year than it had this year, though that could change slightly depending on enrollment, Zigman said. The district has also cut staff positions.
The budget approved Monday night has general fund revenues of about $24.4 million and expenses of about $24.7 million, requiring the district to take almost $320,000 out of its fund balance, or main savings account. The school district has about $5.3 million in that fund now.
Killips said the district continues to work hard to save money in anticipation of losing federal stimulus funds in the 2011-2012 school year. Those funds amount to more than $400 per student, Killips said. Chelsea schools, along with other schools in the state, took a $165 cut in per-pupil revenue for the 2009-2010 fiscal year.
“We’ve changed our heat settings in buildings," Killips said. "We’ve cut our transportation routes. We’re down another administrator. We were down a couple of administrators from the previous year or so. We are looking under every leaf and stone and rock that we can find to see if we can save money."