Superintendent questions costs associated with extra activities
|Carbon cheerleaders shout encouragement to team members and rally spectators at a Carbon high game last year. Cheerleading can be an expensive activity for both parents and students.|
The expense of having students involved in activities like cheerleading might be costing parents too much money, according to district officials who met at the regular school board meeting on June 14.
"I am very concerned about the number of camps that kids are attending, and their costs," said superintendent David Armstrong. "The costs for the camps and other items are getting out of hand for many parents."
Many athletic and cheerleading camps have started to range into prices burdening many parents. The superintendent pointed out one example. It will cost the parents of cheerleaders from Mont Harmon Junior High who attend a summer camp $1,000.
But even if students don't attend camps the costs of being involved can be high.
Uniforms for cheerleaders, for instance, can range between $1,100 and $1,500.
"I think some of this expense is getting out of hand and I want to try to reign it in next year," stated Armstrong. "Parents are getting hit hard for money."
Some parents not only complain about the cost of uniforms and training, but the ongoing expenses associated with the kinds of things cheerleaders and others must provide.
For example, cheerleaders often must pay for providing snacks, gifts or other items for home teams before games.
Nationally, the cost of extra activities has been recognized for a long time.
In 1997, the Jackson Sun published an article on the costs for extracurricular activities, particularly cheerleading. The article opened the floodgates for people and school districts to evaluate the costs of students participating. Since that time costs have grown even more.
Today parents who have kids on a cheerleading squad or on a dance team can expect thousands of dollars of expenses in just uniforms alone. Often drill teams and cheerleading units will have two or more uniforms for various kinds of weather and events. With the costs involved a student involved in cheerleading throughout high school could spend in the neighborhood of $4000 through high school just on uniforms.
"The other problem we have is that some parents pay for the uniforms while others don't have the money so fundraisers are used to generate the funds," said Armstrong. "The uniforms parents buy are theirs and the kids take them with them when they leave school. But the ones that are paid for with school fundraisers should be the property of the school, yet they too leave. In addition, squads often change uniforms from year to year, and so the older ones couldn't be used even if they were left behind. These are all things we need to examine."
Over the years to cover many of the costs different groups have done fundraisers in the school district as well, but those activities also have created problems, largely because the district has a protocol for handling money that comes in this way.
"Schools need to follow policy when it comes to fundraising," Armstrong told the board. "That policy includes filling out the proper forms, providing specific reasons for the fundraiser and getting the proper approvals."
The superintendent said because of the problems he is seeking a change in policy so that he sees the paperwork on all fundraisers that are taking place. In the past those fundraisers only had to be approved by the principals, but he said he would like the requests to come to the superintendent's office as well.
On another issue the superintendent presented to the board the general U-PASS (Utah Performance Assessment System for Students) results for the state.
"Only 5 percent of the schools in the state did not pass," stated Armstrong. "The problem with that is that now the state board seems to think the failure rate wasn't high enough and they are raising the bar for what schools need from students to succeed."
According to state board of education records all the applicable schools in Carbon School District passed this year, but that didn't keep the board from discussing what could come. Comments from various members of the board reflected the fact that they felt that at times the state was just looking to fail schools.
The board also took up the issue of a civil rights review team that visited Carbon High School this spring and the subsequent report they issued concerning the school.
The team that came to Carbon High works out of the state board of education and evaluates schools as to how they are doing when it comes to the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (and the Title IX education amendment of 1972), and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
"The things they found were things that they said we could cure over a reasonable amount of time," said Judy Mainord, secondary curriculum director. "They only visited Carbon High but their findings are applicable to all the schools in the district."
The 44 page report noted a few things that the team felt needed correction. One of the major things was that the school (and district) did not put enough emphasis on reminding parents, employees, potential employees, students and others on documents that the district does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex or disability. The team advised that the district should place this information on more documents it produces and should run a notice in the newspaper periodically stating this fact.
The report also said that the school should develop a process to ensure that all awards and scholarships are not awarded based in any way on the sex of the individual getting the award.
The report also noted that there were some minor deficiencies in the area of those with disabilities.
"Many of the items can be solved easily, a few will take some time," said Mainord. "Some are things we are already working on."
Some of the problems noted were with facilities like having handicapped restroom access.
"The school was built in 1959 and some of the areas are not yet completely revamped to fit handicapped codes," said Deon Kone, the districts maintenance director. "However everything we remodel or change meets those codes as we do it."
The principal of Carbon High, Robert Cox and Mainord have already responded to the state board on how the deficiencies will be solved and have provided a basic timetable for their resolution.