Participation fees going up at U-CF high and middle schools

Photo by Candice Monhollan Nikolas Toocheck, right, is given his medallion for winning the Prudential Spirit of Community Award at the board meeting April 21.

In a controversial decision, it was approved by the Unionville-Chadds Ford school directors to raise participation fees at the middle and high school for sports at the April 21 board meeting.

The fees, which passed by a slim 5-4 majority, had members of the board voice their opinions before the vote was cast.

I think this is the wrong approach to take, said Vice President Gregg Lindner. I think its a slippery slope to be doing this.

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The move will up the participation fee from what was 10 percent of the cost of the activity to now 15 percent.

The new participation fees will include a family cap of $500 per year and an individual cap of $250, which was previously at $200.

Im opposed to a tax on participation, said board member Michael Rock. I think its an unmitigated disaster. Kids in elementary school and secondary schools learn how to participate. To put any tax on that is, in my view, unconscionable. Discouraging that is a big mistake.

Kathleen Do, who voted in favor of the increase, admitted she was torn with the decision.

At this point, because of our budget situation and certainly our hope to adopt programs, I definitely have struggled with this issue and I do hope this does not set a precedent that we will be raising these fees every year, she said. Im hoping that the fee level that we see now, I really hope we will not go above that any time in the foreseeable future.

Board member Keith Knauss also chimed in on his decision to approve the hike.

Its an incredible bargain (and) one I think parents have to pay 10 or 15 percent is not an adverse fee its reasonable, he said.

At this time, the highest participation fee is at $100 per student wishing to be a part of basketball, football, golf, soccer and volleyball at the high school.

The rest of the sports will range from $25 (only middle school cross country and track and field), $50 and $75 at both the middle and high schools.

I did call our neighboring districts to find what (they) are doing, said board member Carolyn Daniels. Initially, I could not get through to the West Chester School District, which may in fact be the highest, but from my small, small study, our students seem to be the highest.

As a parent with fairly active children in the high school, its awfully hard to get to that cap. I think keeping our children busy is a very good thing. While I do think its fair to have a fee, its very difficult to endure additional expenses on the families.

Eileen Bushelow, Knauss, Do, Victor Dupuis and Jeff Hellrung voted in favor of the fee increase while Rock, Daniels, Steve Simonson and Lindner voted against.

Bushelow resigns

During the closing director comments, Bushelow announced she will be stepping down from her role as a Unionville-Chadds Ford school director effective next month, citing personal reasons.

I have been fortunate to serve in this capacity for the last four years, she said. I have learned a lot about education, people and myself. I will forever treasure these experiences.

Toocheck receives medal

Nikolas Toocheck, a fifth-grade student at Hillendale Elementary who is running a marathon on each of the seven continents, received his long-awaited medallion before the school board meeting April 21.

A representative from Prudential Financial was in attendance to give a short speech about the Prudential Spirit of Community Award, which goes to only 102 students two in each state and Washington, D.C. per year.

Toocheck runs these marathons to raise money for Operation Warm, a charity which gives new coats to kids in need across the country, and it has earned him the honor of winning the award.

Though he has received the medallion, Toocheck will also be taking a four-day trip to the nations capital to be honored in a ceremony as well.

About the Author

Candice Monhollan

Candice Monhollan is a 2012 Temple University graduate. She loves to cover sports, especially hockey. She enjoys marching with the Reading Buccaneers Drum & Bugle Corps and has a love of U.S. military history, which includes reenacting. Reach the author at cmonhollan@dailylocal.com .