Students won’t have to pay at sports contestsPublished 9:58am Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Students and staff of the Albert Lea School District will no longer pay admission fees to athletic events in the upcoming school year.
The Albert Lea school board discussed the matter Monday at its regular board meeting when Superintendent Mike Funk suggested waiving admission fees for students.
“We’ve discussed this a couple times about student rates,” Funk said. “Students who are in grades six through 12 would get in free with their ID and kindergarten through fifth grade would get in free with a paid adult.”
Funk said that the younger students would get in free with an adult to ensure that parents wouldn’t just drop off large groups of young children without any supervision. The cost to the district would be about $15,000, but Funk said he still recommends the change.
“I think if we’re trying to be progressive and get kids interested in sports and off the streets, this is a great idea,” Funk said.
In the 2011-12 school year admission fees were waived twice — for Homecoming and Winterfest. Funk said for both events “attendance went up significantly.” Member Bill Leland asked if teachers and staff could also have the fees waived.
“We need to at least consider staff getting in free,” Leland said.
Funk said he agreed that staff could make more connections with students if they attended more athletic events. Members Mark Ciota and Jeshua Erickson also echoed support of having staff get in free. Member Jill Marin said she likes the idea but that she was worried the district would lose too much revenue and have to go back to charging the next year. Funk said his idea would be to ask community businesses to support the admission fee change with funds. He also said he’d like to use the waiving of fees as an example of new benefits for students and staff. The action item was changed to include students, teachers and staff, and it passed.
In other action the board:
• Approved the contract of Jim Wagner for the job of principal at Albert Lea High School. Funk said Wagner is leaving his job as assistant principal at Monticello High School and that the man was the consensus choice of three candidates for the position.
• Approved the contract of Nick Sofio, for the job of principal at Halverson Elementary School. The man will leave his job as instructional coach in the Shakopee School District.
• Heard from Steve Lund about the district’s annual energy usage. Lund said the district has been involved in a program for the last eight years that aims to reduce energy usage and costs. He said the district has saved more than $2 million by reducing energy, heating and water usage even while costs rise.
“Our staff has been wonderful,” Lund said. “They’re the reason we save money, and they work very hard at it.”
Though energy, natural gas and water costs have gone up, Lund explained some of the ways the district has used less of the amenities.
• Made changes to sports participation fees. Funk said that the Albert Lea High School Hall of Fame group donated funds to reduce high school athletic fees from $150 to $135.
• Heard from Funk about recent news in the district. The superintendent said the heating and ventilation projects at Brookside Education Center and Hawthorne Elementary School are going well. Funk also said the school received a grant from the Minnesota Department of Education that will pay two-thirds of a teacher’s salary for specific programming. The district plans to hire five teachers to work with struggling learners at the elementary schools. Funk also said he was working to fulfill the board’s request to expand the Gifted and Talented program at the middle school level by hiring a part-time staff member to help with that goal. Funk also reported that the district has been upgraded to a fiber-optic network system that could potentially drastically increase the speed of its Internet.
• Heard from Spanish teacher Gayle Brownlow about the student trip to Costa Rica in June.
• Heard from board Chairwoman Linda Laurie about her meeting with Albert Lea Mayor Vern Rasmussen. Laurie said the two met to discuss ways the school board and city council could work together.
• Established the truth in taxation hearing date for 6 p.m. Dec. 3.
• Changed the Aug. 6 special school board meeting to a workshop. The workshop will be at Albert Lea High School’s library while work is being done at Brookside Education Center. School board meetings will return to Brookside with the Aug. 20 regular meeting.