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Board OKs fees for pay to participate

Published: Tue, April 24, 2012 @ 12:01 a.m.

poland schools

The fees will begin in the 2012-13 school year

By Elise Franco



Parents and students in Poland will have to open their wallets a bit wider now that pay-to-participate fees are in place.

The board approved pay to participate for all middle school and high school athletics, as well as a transportation fee for students in marching band, during its board meeting Monday.

The fees are $200 per high-school sport, $100 per middle-school sport and a $75 per-participant fee for band, all to begin in the 2012-13 school year.

Board member James Lavorini said he realizes and understands that many staff, students and parents are upset with the board’s decision.

He said the pay-to-participate change is only one of many the board will make in coming months.

“Everybody is going to have to give. We’re in this together,” he said.

“We don’t have some of the answers yet. ... If we take it one step at a time, in the end we’re going to get there.”

Board member Robert Shovlin voted against all the fees.

Board member Elinor Zedaker voted against fees for marching band because of confusion over whether the fee should be mandatory for all participants or an optional fee that would keep those students from attending out-of-town football games if they opt out of paying.

Dr. Larry Dinopolous, board president, said at this time the fee will be mandatory for all marching-band students.

The fees don’t include a cap per student or family and does not exempt students who are receiving free and reduced-cost lunches.

The sports fees will be used to subsidize the athletic budget, and the band fee will cover about half the cost of the band’s transportation, school board members said.

Tracey O’Kane of Poland said the new fees will affect two of her three children in 2012-13 and all three in 2013-14.

“The reason we chose Poland [to live] was because of the well-rounded education, and being involved in band or sports or extracurricular gives them that,” she said. “My biggest concern is the $200 fee per sport for high school students.”

O’Kane said next year she’ll pay upward of $1,200 for fall sports and band for her two high-school children. When her youngest enters middle school the year after that, the cost will rise to about $1,500, assuming the board doesn’t raise the fees.

“Please consider some kind of family cap on these costs,” she said. “This is really going to put a strap on us.

“The school is what makes the community strong, which is why I support levies, but with this, I can’t support another levy.”

The board has until July to decide if it plans to place a levy on the November ballot.

Paul Sherman of Poland said he doesn’t oppose the fees, but he would like to see them distributed to every extracurricular activity.

“Look at everything, and don’t isolate anything,” he said. “You need to reconsider a family cap and break for lower-income families. I’d hate to see an individual miss out because of financial circumstances.”

Dinopolous said the board will review a district evaluation at the May meeting that will look at classroom restructuring, possible open enrollment and the implementation of fees for other extracurricular activities.


1UNCOMMONSENSE(627 comments)posted 4 years, 3 months ago

Board member James Lavorini...
“Everybody is going to have to give. We’re in this together,” So when are the administrators and teachers going to give their part??

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2redeye1(5678 comments)posted 4 years, 3 months ago

Hey Mark. What do expect from an uppidity group such as the superintendent and the board. They are all for everyone else giving up things , but don't ask any of them to do it. If they do put another levy on the ballot. i wll vote against it again

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3msweetwood(179 comments)posted 4 years, 3 months ago

That sentiment seemed to be a recurring theme of the board last night, UNCOMMON. On TV this morning, I caught the Poland school board president saying, "People have to pay their fair share," saying sports "isn't an entitlement."

An odd choice of words, in my opinion, which made me ponder how the district is also handling "entitlements" such as health insurance, pensions, pay, et al. For instance, is every employee in the district now also going to contribute an additional $100-$200 back to the district in increased insurance, co-pays, pay cuts, etc. as part of the collective "fair share?"

By far the biggest share of the budget is in employee costs, not extracurricular activities, after all.

Obviously, we will follow this up. But I am curious: What does everyone else think about the choice of language by the board as it approached a difficult decision?

Mark Sweetwood
Managing Editor

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4redeye1(5678 comments)posted 4 years, 3 months ago

My son brought up a good point this afternoon, Why isn't anyone mentioning the hand rolled copper gutters and downspouts that the board put on the middle school a few years back. That had to cost a ton of money, then they painted them black . He figures so that no one steals them

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5frank(9 comments)posted 4 years, 3 months ago

Mr. Sweetwood...Would it not be of interest of the Vindicator to do a story on the facts. Teachers pay 5% towards their healthcare. Administrators pay nothing. Teachers pay 9% towards their retirement getting additional 15% paid from taxpayers. Administrators pay nothing towards their retirement (STRS) taxpayers pay 24% towards their STRS. That 24% is of their current salary.

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6DwightK(1537 comments)posted 4 years, 3 months ago

Paying 9% toward one's own retirement is pretty standard. Getting a 15% match is not. Holy cow! Some people are lucky enough to get a 50% match on the first 8% of their salary but often it's lower. Usually I support teachers but if those figures are accurate I can see the backlash of voters coming if a levy is introduced.

Public pensions used to be generous because the wage wasn't high. To get a $60,000 salary and a $9,000 contribution to your pension is unsustainable. Most professionals with a bachelor's degree will not see this generous of a retirement package.

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7poland21(108 comments)posted 4 years, 3 months ago

Mr Sweetwood,

The Vindicator should do a follow up with the facts as "Frank" (former BOE member??) indicated. The expose can start with the cuts that were made last year to the teaching staff and bus drivers. It can continue with the 2 year Step and Wage freeze for all employees effective this school year. It can go on to explain why the cost of extra curricular athletics and marching band transportation need to be offset with fees because obviously the BOE should not be cutting academics without at least cutting at least some athletic funding.

The Vindy can also discuss how the school district does not pay Social Security benefits for teachers (6.2% that most other employers have to pay in additional to any 401(k) matches, pensions, etc.)

I just looked at the STRS website and see this:

Members contribute a fixed amount into the fund — currently 10% of their salary. Employers also pay a fixed amount — 14% of their teacher payroll.

So maybe the Vindy can find out if the STRS contributions are even something the BOE can negotiate to change.

Those are all starting points anyway. This is a complicated issue that goes far deeper than snipets taken out of context from a BOE member at a singular BOE meeting.

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8keepingitreal(25 comments)posted 4 years, 3 months ago

Poland21 is a member of the administration and what he advocates should be taken with a grain of salt. His interests include his retirement salary and benefits paid.

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9poland21(108 comments)posted 4 years, 3 months ago

I can guarantee you I am not a member of the administration. Nor am I a union member for any organization. I am a parent with children in the schools.

Quit deflecting.

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10msweetwood(179 comments)posted 4 years, 3 months ago


Good points. Allow me to throw a swerve:

What do taxpayers not working in a publicly supported government job pay toward health care? I know I contribute more than 5 percent. How much do those in private fields pay toward a retirement? What are those in private enterprise paying for co-pays? Deductibles?

You have to consider this: Taxpayers not only pay into THEIR benefits, but they also support, say, teachers' and administrators' benefits. So, when the topic is "fair share" or "everybody has to give," I wonder what this really means to those in government jobs vs. those who support those government jobs.

Or, as a parent who wishes to remain nameless called the newsroom to say, parents already pay property taxes and tuition fees, support a never-ending shopping list of school supplies, support boosters clubs, buy tickets to events and purchase things that kids always seem to be selling to support one school project or another...

So, if these same parents - facing wage freezes and cuts and increases contributions to their benefit packages in their own lives - are going to face new fees in pay-to-play next year for, say, football, what new ways will teachers and administrators add between $100 to $200 each to the cause? That amount certainly won't change the matrix on the 5 percent for health care (add $100 and the amount would still be about 5 percent and still below what most contribute in the private sector).

It is a compelling point and I just wanted to add it to the mix here...

Mark Sweetwood
Managing Editor

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11macattack(2 comments)posted 4 years, 3 months ago

Poland21....you sound like you are a board member. I believe you are. So maybe you can explain to the rest of us how pay to play is going to close the gap on a 1.5 million dollar deficit in which your insubordinate treasurer claims. Why isnt Poland in fiscal watch. This threat has been going on for 3 years ???

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12msweetwood(179 comments)posted 4 years, 3 months ago

Poland 21:

More good points. Thanks for the input.

One caveat: Unless I misunderstand the impact, doing away with busing actually impacted ... the parents! By shifting the burden of transporting kids from the district back to the parents, that was, in a way, a hidden "tax" for many, especially on days when the weather was inclement.

So, while this was certainly not good news for bus drivers, it increased the burden on parents/taxpayers. It is part of a pattern that many see and are troubled by.

I agree there are no easy answers here. And I really would just like to see everyone's thoughts. I am troubled that some parents have viewpoints that they don't want to express in public, so if by posting them here gets some discussion going, then it's all for the better.

Mark Sweetwood
Managing Editor

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13macattack(2 comments)posted 4 years, 3 months ago

Hey Poland21...maybe you can tell the rest of us what the poland school nurse makes (superintendent's daughter) Probably highest paid school nurse in the state of Ohio. I believe it is 82k per year !!!!

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14poland21(108 comments)posted 4 years, 3 months ago

Mr Sweetwood, I would agree that cutting high school busing likely had a negative impact on some parents. But if I remember correctly there were only around 70 kids utilizing it. I am guessing there are around 800 kids in the high school?

I would think the Board would have a hard time justifying not cutting that bus route. Especially since doing so cut benefits and saved a big chunk of money. On the flip side, the bus driver turnover is horrible this year because as soon as they get a job with benefits they are gone. We had the same driver for years, but I think there has already been 2 on our route.

About property taxes: I am not sure that everyone understands that they don't all go to the schools!! And the state is giving our tax money to schools like Youngstown. It is a bad system but it is not the fault of Poland schools.

My kids are only in elementary and so I "pay to participate" in everything that they do. Activities are limited because our budget just won't allow multiple sports and music lessons and dance. I don't see why it should not be any different at the high school level. $200 is still a really good deal for a summer and fall of football. Yes there are expenses outside of that fee, but that is how it is for all activities that my kids are involved in. Only difference is that I can't make my kids cut grass or babysit to help offset the costs (at least not yet anyway)!!!

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15poland21(108 comments)posted 4 years, 3 months ago

Macattack, I don't know the name of the school nurse or anything about her. I dont even know when or if there is a nurse in the elementary building my kids are in. I am sure that you can look up her salary if you were really interested. After all you created a brand new vindy account just to "attack" me.

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16anthonyjames(17 comments)posted 4 years, 3 months ago

I do live in poland and can tell you why I did not vote for the levy. Someone previoulsy mentioned about the administrators retirement benefits . Just simply crazy. Also, not sure if anyone noticed last year how the Superintendent and teachers union rushed through contract talks to settle on a very low 5% premium on health care benefits as the concern was SB 5 would actually make them pay 20%. Who pays 5% in this day and time? The district has been so poorly managed and now they want us to pay for it? Example being the information I got from the Vindicator on their busing of so few if any students at a cost of $600,000 per year. Simple example of a waste of money. 10 years of this is $6,000,000. Do the math on busing and insurance premiums and there is the mismanagement of the district that would have kept them from the mess they created and now want us to fix. They would not be in this position if they spent money as if it were there own,.. Will never vote for another levy until Zorn is gone. He is another example, retires and makes a full salary.

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