Children caught in numbers game
May 2, 2003
Once again children are about to get hurt when they have done nothing to warrant it.
They may not know it right now, but there is the possibility mom and dad will tell them this is their last year of ball. It will have nothing to do with their ability on the ballfield. It will have everything to do with their parents inability to pay the fees.
Every person and every business needs to make the books balance. School districts do not have the luxury of running up credit card bills to purchase what they want and not worry if they only meet the monthly minimum payment. And even though some school districts have declared bankruptcy, that is the last thing anyone would want for Lake Tahoe Unified School District.
What the state takes away from schools and what the district is losing in average daily attendance dollars is mindboggling. We are talking about a figure with seven numbers before the decimal is ever reached — $3 million. Everything the district collects in use fees will go directly to the general fund.
Money is tight for everyone, as evidenced by this week’s headline detailing the fact United Way has fewer dollars to dole out. There are more people on the South Shore needing more help with fewer people helping them. People can only give so much, which in turn means agencies can give back only so much.
Much is the same for the schools. They cannot be giving away the use of facilities — inside or out — for a nominal fee when it costs a pretty penny in overhead, maintenance, and wear and tear.
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A chart provided by the district compares what it charges now to what it wants to charge. Fee schedules for Lake Tahoe Community College and three other school districts charges are also included.
The increases would bring LTUSD in line with what others charge for things like gymnasium use, kitchen rental and classroom space.
There has been some confusion as to what will happen to athletes. As it stands, the Community Athletic Coordinating Council receives $20 per team or $7 per individual from its members — Lake Tahoe Unified School District, South Lake Tahoe, Little League, Babe Ruth, ASA Girls Softball, Pop Warner Football, Adult Softball, AYSO Soccer, Adult Soccer, Summer Little League, Fall Babe Ruth and Club Soccer. The council then gives a percentage of the funds it collects to the district.
Those organizations are not subject to a rate increase.
However, groups that come in to play weekend softball tournaments will be billed at a rate of $40 an hour, or a maximum of $400 a day. In past years they have used the diamonds for free.
It is too early to know if the amount will be cost prohibitive to these weekend warriors. Who knows what the domino effect on the economy will be if they go elsewhere.
For the past two years the district has waived the $10 fee it charged youth basketball squads to use gyms. Now the city leagues will be forking over $25 per hour of practice time in any district gymnasium.
It clearly costs money to have fun. The district needs to balance its books. It is time the athletic leagues and other groups started to make cuts.
Maybe uniforms need to be used more than one season. Equipment needs to be recycled and repaired instead of purchasing new sporting goods. Hand-me-downs should not just be for siblings.
In times like these everyone needs to pitch in to make it work for all concerned. Sports are important. The last thing anyone wants is for athletics to become an elitist activity, but at the same time the district needs to have the resources to educate children.
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