Northfield School Board approves new fee percentages

/ 23 April 2012 / jennifer

Allison Roorda, Northfield News, April 23, 2012 –

By a vote of 5-2, the Northfield School Board approved a revised plan for student activities fees for free and reduced lunch students next school year.

Currently, students on free or reduced lunch prices have 100 percent of the activities fees waived. Under the new plan proposed by the Activities Advisory Committee, students on a free lunch plan will pay 20 percent of the activity fee and students on a reduced lunch plan will pay 40 percent of the fee.

The biggest concern for school board members was the possibility of losing students in activities because of the increased expectation in pay.

“There’s certainly a possibility that two to three kids don’t show up and we lose those kids,” said board member John Fossum.

Activities Director Tom Graupmann said he and the coaching staff for the district would be diligent in watching for kids that might drop activities because of the new plan.

“Honestly, I think no matter who the child is, we’ll find a way for that child to play,” Graupmann said. “I don’t foresee losing people because of this.”

Graupmann said there were other issues he has seen come up that factor into a family’s or child’s decision not to participate in activities. Some factors include transportation costs, extra food costs or equipment costs. There are also occasionally situations where a family situation prevents a child from participating in activities, even with the current plan of 100 percent of fees waived. An example he gave was a child who has to be home after school to watch younger siblings or a child who has to work to provide extra income for the family.

Kari Nelson, board vice-chair, suggested that the board take a look at some numbers in September or October to see how the statistics of students going out for activities turns out. She was also interested in hearing some anecdotal stories of how the district was helping students who wouldn’t be able to meet the 20 or 40 percent of the fee.

“I hope the coaches will be on the lookout for those kids,” Nelson said.

The board passed the motion by a vote of 5-2 with Anne Maple and John Fossum voting against.