Port schools to charge $15 roster fee with exceptions

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The Port Washington Board of Education discusses roster fees at their August meeting. (Photo by Luke Torrance)

Following protests from the Girl Scouts and other youth organizations, the Port Washington School District Board of Education decided to set the roster fee at $15 on Wednesday.

“Because of the tax cap levy, we have to be very mindful of every penny we spend,” said board President Karen Sloan, explaining the increase. “This was a way to try and offset the costs that just charge the people that use it and maintain our facilities.”

The fee is charged for each child in youth groups using school facilities.

The fee would increase from $10, which has been the per-child roster fee for more than five years. The board voted last month to increase the fee to $20, saying the $10 fee was insufficient to cover rising costs.

But protests from the community led the board to back down. And for some groups, like the Girl Scouts, the fee will remain at $10 per child for the time being.

“Particularly pertaining to the Girl Scouts, that organization isn’t using and causing additional wear and tear to our facilities, and that would be a consideration for me,” said board member Beth Weisburd.

Board Vice President Nora Johnson agreed, saying that the Girl Scouts’ meetings in the cafeteria did not lead to equipment or furniture needing to be replaced.

Other nonprofit organizations that hold meetings indoors immediately after school — like the chess club — would also keep the $10 fee.

The Boy Scouts do not meet on Port Washington school property.

The increase would mostly affect athletic clubs, as Sloan said the school has to pay for maintaining the fields and replacing things like basketball, soccer and lacrosse nets.

The board discussed whether the fees could be a burden for families with multiple children playing multiple sports. A parent with the Port Washington Soccer Club said the fee increase would limit the number of scholarships the club could give out and some children would not have the chance to play soccer.

But Sloan said the current fee was insufficient.

“Our costs are increasing, so we have to increase the fee we charge,” she said.

The fee will increase incrementally over the coming years, as the board agreed that more than five years without an increase was too long. The board added that the fee was needed to maintain school facilities, not to make money.

While the school grounds were mostly quiet due to the lack of students, Superintendent Kathleen Mooney said the district was hard at work with construction projects. She said progress was being made on expansions to the Manorhaven and Guggenheim elementary schools, although both would not be fully ready until January or February.

She also reminded everyone that the first day of class for students is Sept. 5.

Reach reporter Luke Torrance by email at ltorrance@theislandnow.com, by phone at 516-307-1045, ext. 214, or follow him on Twitter @LukeATorrance.

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