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Published: Wednesday, 7/1/2009

Oregon OKs new fee table for athletes

BY JULIE M. McKINNON
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Hoping to increase athletic department revenues without unduly penalizing high school students playing multiple sports, Oregon City Schools board members last week approved a fee schedule for the upcoming year.

Clay High School athletes will pay $75 for the first sport they play next school year, $50 for the second, and $25 for the third. Student athletes had paid a flat fee of $50 for each high school sport, no matter how many they played.

"It encourages kids to play multiple sports," Superintendent Mike Zalar told board members before they approved the athletic-fees change.

Board members also approved an array of school fees for next year, some of which were lowered while others were raised depending on costs for supplies.

Waivers for academic fees are available for students in the free and reduced-price lunch program but not for athletic fees, which at the middle-school level will be raised to $45 from $40 last year, Mr. Zalar said.

Mr. Zalar also updated board members on efforts to give voters information about the 5.95-mill, 10-year emergency levy on the Aug. 4 ballot, which would raise $3.6 million annually.

If approved, the levy would cost the owner of a $100,000 house an additional $182 this year, said Jane Fruth, school district treasurer.

Officials plan to work with a consultant to determine the best ways to communicate the need for additional tax dollars from residents, Mr. Zalar said.

The financially troubled district is in the midst of cutting $3.5 million from its annual budget, which includes laying off 32 teachers and an as yet undetermined number of other employees.

Falling tax revenues due to state changes, declining house valuations, and other reasons beyond the district's control have hurt the district financially.

Money raised from the emergency levy would keep the district in the black for two years.

Layoffs and other cutbacks should prove to voters that the district is trying to make significant reductions, Mr. Zalar said. Additional tax dollars are needed to support the district's education program, he said.

"Without the additional revenue, we're not going to be able to sustain what we have in place," Mr. Zalar said.

During this month's board meeting, Dr. Zalar plans to give members a complete accounting of where the $3.5 million in savings will come from. The meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. July 22 in

Clay High School's library.

Among topics that are still under discussion with the district's unions is how to pay for a 12 percent increase in health care coverage that starts July 1, Ms. Fruth said.

Scheduling high school and middle school classes has been challenging because of the cutbacks, Mr. Zalar said.

The district also continues to work on redoing bus routes, said Dean Sandwisch, the district's director of business affairs.

The goal is to eliminate 10 bus routes to save money, officials have said.



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