After-school programs stretched thin

In the North Kitsap School District, most of the money from the current school support levy pays the salaries of teachers and support staff.

But levy dollars also help pay for kids to participate in extra-curricular activities like sports, honor societies and academic clubs. These groups often charge students individual fees for participation, but could not function without extra support from tax dollars.

“If we just tried to base the sports programs on participation fees, we couldn’t do it,” said Matt Vandeleur, principal of Poulsbo Middle School. “The participation fee helps, but by no means supports the programs. Without the levy dollars, we’d see those sports and activities in jeopardy.”

Even with support from levy money and pay-to-play fees, extra-curricular programs rely heavily on fundraisers. Several programs throughout the district do things like car washes and McTakeovers, in which students volunteer to work at a McDonald’s restaurant for an afternoon and the restaurant then donates a percentage of its sales for that time period to the school.

Athletes at both North Kitsap and Kingston high schools pay to take part in sports, but are also expected to raise funds on the side for their teams.

“Every team does some form of fundraising,” said Dan Novick, athletic director for Kingston High. “It’s pretty much a necessity these days. If they want to have any extras at all, typically that comes from fundraising.”

Those extras can include everything from equipment upgrades to team snacks and meals.

Other programs, like music and drama, don’t charge participation fees, but require students to pay out-of-pocket for extras, and sometimes essentials.

“The amount of money they put into the (marching band) program to purchase marching shoes, suits, instruments, I’d say is in the couple hundred dollar range each year,” said Adam Campagna, band director at Kingston High School.

Depending on the school, some programs, like debate, require participation fees in addition to out-of-pocket expenses.

Without additional money from the school support levy, the budgets for after-school activities and other programs, including transportation and textbooks and technology would likely suffer.

“To pull levy dollars would have a huge impact on the kids’ learning. A negative impact,” Vandeleur said. “The bottom line is, it’s just about the kids.”

Join the Herald’s advisory board

The North Kitsap Herald’s advisory board hosted proponents of the levy during a Jan. 15 meeting. To see what the advisory board has to say, see the editorial on page 4. Those present were Muriel Williams, Ginger Shields and Jennifer Wiegand of Poulsbo and Nancy Tietje of Kingston. To join the advisory board, contact Donna Etchey, publisher, or Celeste Cornish, editor, at (360) 779-4464.

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