Uniformity in user fees

Mar 1, 2018 by

Another victory for girls’ ice hockey

Published in the March 1, 2018 edition

By JILLIAN STRING

NORTH READING — School Committee members agreed to revisit the athletic fees and co-op teams policy Monday night after concerns were raised regarding high user fee costs for the varsity girls’ ice hockey team.

The team currently participates in a co-op program with Lynnfield and Peabody, playing for the Peabody Veterans Memorial High School Tanners.

The athletic fees and co-op teams policy for North Reading states, “if the fee charged by the school hosting the cooperative team is equal to or more than the North Reading Public Schools athletic fee, the student will be responsible for paying to the North Reading Public Schools up to the amount of the North Reading family cap. North Reading families, at no time, will be required to pay for an athletic user fee(s) that exceeds the North Reading family cap.”

According to the 2017-2018 North Reading High School Athletic Department Handbook, “the user fee schedule is a cost of $400 for the first sport in which a student participates; $200 for the second sport; and $200 for the third sport. A ‘family cap’ of $1,300 has been established.”

According to Director of Finance and Operations Michael Connelly, this year Peabody assessed a fee of $1,363 per student to participate in the varsity girls’ ice hockey program. Of the seven players from North Reading, four students paid the $1,300 family cap maximum, two paid $900, one had already reached the family cap and paid $0, leaving the district to subsidize $2,543.

“In at least one case this has kind of created a hardship…I give credit to the parents who formed a Boosters club, and I think they’ve done a lot in this season to raise money,” School Committee Chairman Mel Webster said. “We need to find a happy medium.”

Hockey parent Kris Thibedeau told the committee that the students from Peabody are only assessed a user fee of $150, and Lynnfield students are paying around $600 to participate in the program.

School Committee Vice Chairman Jerry Venezia noted that all players are assessed the same fee, however Peabody and Lynnfield subsidize different amounts.

Committee member Scott Buckley stated that it is about opportunity. Female students should not miss out on playing a sport because of a financial burden. He noted that there are higher costs associated with the boys’ hockey team as well. These costs are absorbed by the revolving account and the North Reading High School Boys’ Hockey Boosters.

“The fairest thing to do is to charge the fees we charge our other athletes,” Webster said.

The committee decided that going forward, the varsity girls’ ice hockey team will follow the current user fee schedule in place for non-cooperative teams.

This information will be shared with the athletic subcommittee, and the policy subcommittee will draft a new athletic fees and co-op teams policy, which will be in place before the next hockey season.

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