HARVARD -- Parents of Bromfield middle/high school athletes should feel some relief from sports fees starting this fall. On May 29, the Harvard School Committee approved a 10 percent rollback of athletic fees for the coming 2012-2013 school year.
Superintendent Joseph Connelly revealed the results of a study of several types of student fees, from busing, pre-kindergarten tuitions and parking fees for districts that charge upperclassmen who drive themselves to school.
The vote affects only Bromfield sports fees, which have the dubious distinction of topping the charts as the most costly athletic fees, ranging from $285 up to $435.
Bromfield boys and girls basketball was the highest among 30 local communities at $435 per student athlete.
Bromfield athletic fees topped Tyngsboro's maximum $400 per sport per student fee, Groton-Dunstable's $300 to $400 range, Ashland's $335 per sport fee, and Chelmsford's $200 to $300 per sport fee.
The committee's initial goal was to reduce the athletic fees by 15 percent. Ultimately, the school committee voted on a 10 percent drop in athletic fees.
Athletic fees are used to fund the athletic director's pay of $25,009. But with the budget cycle for the coming school year, the athletic director's salary was taken out of the revolving fund and is now being funded via the school district's operating budget.
As a result, the total reduction in projected athletic fees to be collected in the coming year will
Connelly said he confirmed the savings with Athletic Director Pam Alexander. For this fiscal year now ending, Alexander confirmed that she's collected $250,000 in athletic fees. "The rationale we used seven months ago still makes sense," said Connelly.
Odd sums were rounded up or down to the nearest $5 mark.
Cross country fees will drop from $285 to $250. Varsity and junior varsity soccer will drop from $360 to $325 (middle school soccer drops from $335 to $300). Varsity and junior varsity field hockey drops from $360 to $325 (middle-school field hockey drops from $335 to $300). And golf drops from $400 to $360.
Winter indoor track drops from $310 to $280. Swim team drops from $410 to $370. Middle-school basketball drops from $335 to $300. Varsity and junior varsity basketball drops from $435 to $395. And the ski team fee drops from $400 to $360 per student.
Spring middle-school baseball and softball drops from $335 to $300 (varsity and junior varsity baseball and softball drops from $375 to $340). Lacrosse and tennis both drop from $360 to $325, and track drops from $310 to $280.
"It's a step in the right direction if that's what you want to do," said Connelly, who said the athletic director needed resolution on the issue in order to send home notices with students in advance of the fall semester.
"It creeps up"
"It's exciting that we're finally making some progress on a decrease here," said committee member Patty Wenger. "The sad news is more and more towns are getting up to our level. I guess it's just the way it is, but it's great that we're moving forward on this."
Connelly noted that many schools do have a family cap on athletic fees, though Harvard does not. Connelly said "In my case, I had five kids, all in school at the same time. We'd have been paying $3,000 a year. Many schools have a cap, but we'd have to calculate what the lost revenue would be."
Chairperson SusanMary Redinger wondered about the cumulative effect of all fees "not just sports ... it creeps up."
Connelly estimated that perhaps 85 percent of the Bromfield students participate in one sport or another. "Clearly there are a larger percentage of kids involved in sports than taking a bus or full-day kindergarten or preschool. So sports fees do impact the most kids."
The committee voted unanimously to drop the athletic fees now to permit notice to parents over the summer months on the new lower rate.
Follow Mary Arata at twitter.com/maryearata.