Archived Story

Cassopolis school board approves budget, talks athletic fee

Published 4:32pm Tuesday, June 26, 2012

After a brief budget hearing, the Cassopolis Public Schools Board of Education approved the preliminary budget for the 2012-2013 academic year and fine-tuned details of the upcoming athletic fee.

During the regular meeting of the board Monday, a preliminary budget was approved with an operating deficit of $313,197 for the 2012-2013 school year. Discussion items before the vote pertained largely to the Cassopolis Service Employees Association concession package and the Athletic Committee’s report on the recent decision for athletes to pay a $100 annual fee. Finance Director Tricia Gaideski presented the details of the preliminary budget, as well as final budgets for the 2011-2012 school year.

“A few employees with medical benefits took a $150 monthly stipend instead, and part-time employees without benefits gave a 10 percent wage concession,” Gaideski said.

Other discussion during the meeting laid out more details of the pay-to-play decision. After board trustee Scott Ward presented several particular pieces of the process, the board voted to change the reference from pay-to-play to an athletic fee. Ward also explained the community has come forward in several ways to help student athletes pay the fee.

“Funds coming in from the general public would have to be pooled together and then split equally between all student athletes,” Ward said of any community fundraising events. “That’s the only fair way to do that.”

Some possible ideas would include athletes volunteering to aid in the cleanup after the Cass County Fair and a pig roast with athlete servers.

Other athletic fundraising ideas include advertising signage on the football, baseball and softball fields, totaling 49 spaces for local businesses to purchase.

“Pricing would depend on placement, and it wouldn’t distract from the view of any game,” Ward said.

The $100 athletic fee, which allows a student to play in any number of seasons throughout the school year, is estimated to generate $18,000 for the athletic department, but Ward said, if community ventures and fundraising equates to $18,000, students wouldn’t have to pay the fees out of pocket. The board set the payment deadline at Sept. 21 for fall sports, Nov. 5 for winter sports and March 2013 for spring sports.

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