Extracurricular activities at the Payson Unified School District (PUSD) cost almost a million dollars annually, reported Business Manager Kathie Manning at a recent school board meeting, putting hard numbers behind a long-running debate about rising fees and the need for fund-raising.
The district relies on participation fees and donations to cover almost all of that hefty cost.
School board member Barbara Shepherd commented, “If you’re thinking about raising fees, cut some of those expenses.”
“This (report) was just to give a summary of what those programs actually cost,” said Kim Pound, a fellow board member.
The debate over sports fees has simmered since the school board voted to impose the fees two years ago.
In an attempt to continue sports programs threatened by the deep cuts the Arizona Legislature made to the education budget and an enrollment decline, PUSD initiated a $200 fee per sport per child, with a maximum family and sport payout of $400. Other activities, such as music, art, even science classes have activity fees as well. The district covers much of the cost of extracurricular activities through either fees or donations through the Credit for Kids state tax write off.
Shepherd and others have opposed the fees for sports since they came into effect, fearing struggling Payson families cannot afford to pay for their children’s activities.
The district has assured parents that if they need financial help paying fees they can get scholarships to cover the charges.
Manning said that several revenue streams offset the $862,000 in extracurricular costs, which includes facilities, dues, equipment, transportation and coach salaries.
Gate fees, sports passes, student and sport fees directly offset about 17 percent of extracurricular activities cost.
Other fund-raising vehicles such as Credit for Kids dollars, donations, and clubs pay for the remaining 83 percent of the extracurricular costs.
Last year, the citizens of Payson raised more than a quarter of a million dollars from Credit for Kids donations.
“For a community this size, to receive (about) $300,000 from Credit for Kids is amazing,” said Manning.
The Arizona Legislature grants citizens a tax credit for donating up to $200 per person to the public schools. A married couple filing jointly may donate $400.
The money donated to Credit for Kids comes directly off the tax owed, rather than off income.
Organizations and individuals also donate directly to the Payson school district. At each school board meeting, the board lists the most recent donations on its agenda.
According to Manning’s report, last year the school received about $150,000 from donors. Manning said that not all of these donations go toward extracurricular activities, however.
The third revenue stream for extracurricular activities comes from student, club or group fund-raising activities.
Those students selling candy, T-shirts, knickknacks, or washing cars raised just shy of $250,000.