The fee families pay for their children to participate in extracurricular activities in Brookfield-LaGrange Park School District 95 is likely going up for the 2023-24 school year, but just how much remains to be seen.
District 95 Superintendent Mark Kuzniewski at the May 11 meeting of the school board recommended hiking the fee to $95 per student per activity from the existing $60, an increase of 58%.
The fee is imposed equally no matter what the extracurricular activity is – whether a student is part of the Rubiks Cube Club or the S.E. Gross varsity basketball team – and it has not been raised since it was instituted in 2019 to recover part of the cost for having teachers supervise them.
There are dozens of clubs, some with just a handful of students, and the cost to the district to run them far exceeds activity fee revenue. For the 2022-23 school year, said Kuzniewski, the school district collected $92,535 in student activity fees, about 37% of the cost to run them. The expense for teachers supervising the programs was $249,468, plus another $10,000 in supplies in 2022-23, according to Kuzniewski.
The district’s administration is in the process of negotiating a new teacher contract, said Kuzniewski, and the cost to supervise those programs is expected to increase, although Kuzniewski declined to say how much he expected that to be, citing pending collective bargaining negotiations.
School board President Katie Mulcrone suggested perhaps raising the activity fee to $75, but Kuzniewski pushed back on that, saying that revenue from a $75 activity fee would cover a smaller percentage of the overall budget to run activities than the $60 rate covered when the fee was instituted.
A $95 activity fee next year would allow the school district to cover the same percentage, Kuzniewski said, as the $60 fee did five years ago.
Kuzniewski said that while it was a big one-time hit, the school district had not raised the fee in five years and could have opted to raise it incrementally each year instead. He said that if the fee was increased to $95 for next year, he didn’t anticipate the school board having to revisit the fee soon.
“I think there are mechanisms in place where that $95 isn’t going to have to be discussed for a number of years, because I don’t believe the costs will escalate at the same rate they have in the past,” Kuzniewski said.
In response to board Vice President Jackie Jordan’s question about how much raising the activity fee from $60 to $95 might impact participation in extracurriculars, Kuzniewski said he felt the additional $35 per activity would not drive families away from activities.
“It’s a valid concern that people would not have access due to not being able to pay,” Kuzniewski said. “But I don’t really think that is a problem. It’s not that we don’t have people who struggle financially, but I don’t know that our families aren’t taking the opportunities to go into clubs due to $60 versus $95. … They don’t let money stand in the way of their children’s opportunities.”
Whatever the school board decides, Kuzniewski said, the amount of revenue generated by the student activity fee would not have a significant impact on the school district’s roughly $15 million operating budget.