By Elise Franco
A fee to be charged to band and choir students beginning next year is a point of contention with one school board member.
The board voted 4-1 Wednesday night to approve class fees for the 2012-13 school year, including a $50 fee per student for those who participate in band or choir.
Board member Renee Gessner voted no, saying she’s always opposed the implementation of the fee for those students.
“I will say no to all these class fees,” she said. “Cuts are needed rather than the hopes of new fees.”
Gessner said instead, the band and choir directors should work with their respective booster clubs to try to raise additional funding.
“Adding fees gives the impression that this is just a different way to raise taxes,” she said.
Superintendent Dante Zambrini said the cuts have been discussed at length with board members, as well as building principals.
“We’ve discussed this extensively,” he said. “If you don’t save the money here you have to cut different things.”
Board President Brian Kesner said the fees are a part of a second round of cuts. Phase 1 cuts, announced in February, included 14 teachers and 11 classified employees.
“This situation is not what anybody wants to do,” Kesner said. “But to provide any type of educational process, it’s going to cost money. Nobody wants Phase 2 to happen, but the voters spoke.”
A 6.8-mill levy to bring $3.8 million annually into the district was defeated in May. A 1.6-mill renewal levy, which will continue to generate $890,000 annually, was approved.
Zambrini said the board went into executive session after Wednesday’s regular meeting to discuss the details of Phase 2, which will include pay-to-participate for sports and other extracurricular activities for next school year.
“It will go into effect Sept. 1,” he said.
Phase 2 cuts will total $1.8 million to make up for what the district does not receive in additional revenue next year. The cuts will include reductions of 12 teachers and 15 classified staff, state minimum busing with a half-mile between bus stops for kindergartners through eighth-graders and pay-to-participate for extracurricular activities, according to Vindicator archives.
Zambrini also said Wednesday the board hasn’t decided whether to put a levy for new money on the ballot in November.
“It’s still under consideration,” he said. “They have to file in August, so they’ll use the summer months to study and to research their options.”