If the April tax hike referendum for Riverside-Brookfield High School fails, the District 208 school board is ready to require students to pay to be on a school athletic team.

At a committee of the whole meeting Monday night, the school board reviewed plans for a pay-to-participate policy that would charge $100 for the right to be on one RB athletic team. Joining a second team would cost $50, and a third sport or a sibling on a team would cost another $50. The maximum
cost for one athlete would be $150 and the maximum cost for a family would be capped at $200.

The board also seemed to reach consensus on a proposal from the RB administration to increase the basic student registration fee by $25 to $190.

Discussions about the fee hikes were part of broader talks about the upcoming tax referendum in 2011. Also on Monday night, the school board appeared to agree on the exact hike they’ll ask voters to approve.

On Dec. 14, the board will formally approve the wording of the referendum. The board likely will ask for an increase of 44 cents per $100 of equalized assessed valuation. That would cost the owner of a $300,000 house about $418 in additional property taxes annually.

If the referendum fails, the district is prepared to cut about 9.8 full-time teaching positions and a host of extracurricular activities. The pay-to-participate athletic fee would reduce the number of teaching positions to be cut to about 8.5 to 8.7 full-time positions.

On Dec. 13, the night before the school board votes to authorize the referendum, RB will host a public forum for community members to talk more about the referendum and RB’s financial condition.

The public forum will be held at 7 p.m. in the Little Theater of the school, 160 Ridgewood Road, Riverside.

“The purpose of the open meeting will be to provide parents and members of the community with information about the district’s financial condition and options the administration and board are considering as the operating budgets for 2011-12 and 2012-13 are being considered,” Interim Superintendent David Bonnette said in a press release.

The combination of the pay-to-play plan and the increase in the basic registration fee is projected to bring in $89,525 in additional revenue, which is enough to save the job of one teacher and fund a fraction of the cost of another teacher.

“These fees are a tax on things kids like to do to support another teacher,” said school board member Larry Herbst.

The pay-to play-fees, which the administration is calling a pay-to-participate policy because being on a team does not guarantee playing time, is estimated to raise $58,700 while the $25 increase in the basic student registration fee is estimated to raise $30,825.

The school had considered implementing a pay-to-play fee this year, but in June voted 5 to 1 to raise the basic student registration fee by $35 instead.

If the pay-to-play fee is implemented, the money will go towards the academic program not towards reducing the planned cuts in the athletic program, if the referendum fails.

If the referendum passes, there would be no pay-to-play fee and no fee hikes of any kind next year, Bonnette said. But after that, there are no guarantees even if the referendum passes.

“I wouldn’t want to promise that fees won’t increase past next year,” Bonnette said.