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School board leans toward activity fee for music classes

POULSBO — High school students wanting to take a music class in addition to a full six-period day may be paying for that additional instruction time next year.

The North Kitsap School Board is considering tacking on a fee to jazz and choir, and treating them as activities.

A proposal adding fees to the music classes, and removing credit earned for taking them, is expected to be presented to the board at the regular meeting Aug. 22, 6 p.m.

There are currently no classes scheduled at either high school outside the regular six-period day, Superintendent Patty Page said during a special board meeting Aug. 8.

Under the proposal, jazz and choir classes will be offered at North Kitsap High School; Kingston will offer jazz.

Monica Hunsaker, the district’s director of finance, business and operation, gave the board four options to consider regarding classes taken in addition to a six-period day. The option receiving the most vocal support by the board during the meeting would introduce fees based on the after-school activity costs already in place.

Students pay $125 to participate in after-school sports and activities each semester. Students cannot be charged more than $250 per school year, which means any sport or activity beyond two, is free.

If the board is going to install fees for additional classes, it should be the cheapest option for families, board director Scott Henden said.

“I don’t like the fees, even for sports,” Henden said. “I wish we could get rid of them as well.”

Directors Ken Ames, Bill Webb and Board President Dan Weedin felt similar toward charging the least amount for classes outside the regular six-period day.

Under the activity-fee structure, the district would pay someone a stipend to be an advisor to the class. The stipend is a cheaper solution to paying a certificated teacher, which would cost more under the North Kitsap Education Association bargaining agreements.

Director Tom Anderson advised the board that fees for students taking beyond six classes was considered by the previous administration; nothing ever came to fruition. Offering classes beyond six for students is not helping the district reduce class sizes, he said.

“The board goal for everyone is to reduce class sizes,” he said. “If we go beyond the standard six, make them pay; that’s fine with me.”

“I want to make sure this is as equitable as possible,” Anderson added.

Other options presented to the board included students paying $375 per semester ($200 if enrolled in free or reduced meal programs). The fees would be enough to pay a certified teacher $16,000 a year to instruct a class. A similar option would have students pay about half, while the district pays half.

During the 2012-13 school year, high schools allowed students to take more than six classes without cost. School districts cannot charge for student time claimed for six classes or less. Districts can charge tuition or fees to full-time students who enroll in credit retrieval, accelerated courses, or other classes not considered basic education.

The district also offers classes outside the regular school day for those participating in ASB (Associated Student Body), and courses through Career and Technical Engineering (CTE), such as athletic medicine and on-site job work. The CTE program budgets for additional classes.

Because students were receiving a credit or less for taking music classes in addition to the required six, the majority of the board didn’t voice concern over students missing out on that credit. Weedin does not see students missing out on .2 or .5 credits being much of an issue.

 

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