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Woodridge seeking raffle car to help fund activities

8/28/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Becky Tompkins

In 2012, Woodridge Local Schools instituted a pay-to-participate (PTP) policy to help defray the costs of athletics, music and other extracurricular activities.

The annual fees ranged from $25 for a high school or middle school club to $125 per student for a high school sport, with an annual cap of $375 per family. The fees raised about $90,000 each of the last two years, according to Treasurer Deanna Levenger.

Last May, Board of Education members voted to suspend the fees for the 2014-15 school year and created a committee to investigate other ways to raise money to help pay for the coaches’ and advisers’ supplemental contracts and other expenses of the activities.

At a board meeting Aug. 19, board member Linda Ocepek reported for the committee, which also includes Superintendent Walter Davis, Levenger, Athletic Director Nick Mayer and George DeBord, a former school board member who is still serving on the PTP committee even though he resigned from the board July 2.

Ocepek said the committee chose a car raffle as its main fundraiser to help defray the student costs. Despite members’ efforts in reaching out to car dealers, “no one has donated a car yet,” Ocepek said.

She cited research the PTP committee has done on the benefits of extracurricular activities, including the board’s policy statement that they meet a “wide range of vocational, recreational, social and cultural needs and interests. … All students should be urged to join at least one club or activity.”

Ocepek added extracurricular activities are valued by colleges, and they are sometimes the reason that students stay in school.

The $90,000 raised in fees does not cover the extracurricular costs, however, Levenger said. The coaches’ and advisers’ salaries total over $300,000, she said.

She said the district received $105,000 last year from Ohio casino profits, a new source of revenue. That money goes into the General Fund, she said.

Davis said those new funds could be earmarked for the extracurricular activity costs. The board members voted unanimously to put the casino revenue in a special extracurricular fund. They also will continue to seek a car to raffle as a fundraiser, they said.

In other business, Davis provided an update on the busing situation at the beginning of the school year. He and Transportation Supervisor Frank Margida studied the situation last spring for a report required by the state, he said.

The Woodridge district is spread out geographically over 42 square miles, with schools far apart and no sidewalks for children to walk on, so “We bus everybody,” Davis said. Woodridge has 32 buses that cover 28 daily routes, he said, totaling 1,890 miles a day.

It costs $988 annually to bus a nonspecial education student and $6,758 a year to transport a special education student  because of the extra needs for staff and equipment, he said.

The district also is required to bus children who live in the district but attend other private, parochial or charter schools. If the other school is too far away or there are too few students going there or busing to it disrupts the regular busing schedules, the district may declare it impractical and offer the parents of that student an in-lieu-of payment instead of transportation, Davis explained.

Last year, Woodridge paid $38,986 in in-lieu-of payments for 133 students, he said.

All of the parents in such situations this year have accepted the payment alternative except four cases: three students attending Seton Catholic School in Hudson and one going to Lawrence School (Lower) in Broadview Heights. These parents have chosen instead to take their cases to a Department of Education mediator, Davis said. He said the mediator will be there next week to test-drive to the schools, hold a hearing and decide the cases. In the meantime, Woodridge must provide transportation to the disputed schools, Davis said.

“It’s out of our hands at this point,” he said.

The board’s next regular meeting is scheduled for Sept. 16 at 6 p.m. in the Woodridge High School Library, 4440 Quick Road.

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