Extracurricular activities are no longer free

Starting in the fall of 2010, all middle and high school students that attend Cherry Hill public schools will have to pay a student activities fee in order to participate in any extracurricular activity.

Originally, the Board of Education began with the idea of a general student fee that would be imposed on every student. Assistant Superintendent James Gallagher said that “the advantage of the general fee is that it spreads the cost” from every elementary to high school student. However, this idea was put to rest because not everyone participates in some sort of extracurricular activity.

The general student fee evolved into a one-time student activities fee which requires every middle and high school student to pay $70 and $80 respectively in order to participate in any extracurricular. The purpose of the fee is to help defray the costs of the activities since the budget was not passed.

According to Gallagher, the maximum amount a family would have to pay is $150.

“Without these fees, there would have been more cuts [to the budget],” said Gallagher.

This fee would apply to any activity for which an advisor receives a stipend i.e. sports and theatre. It would not, however, apply to clubs which are indigenous to the high school.

The fee would permit participation in multiple activities and would be collected one time at the beginning of the school year, much like how the money for PSATs and the SATs are collected, through the guidance office. The collected money would then be transferred directly to the Board instead of the school.

“[The fees] provide a viable option for those who wish to engage in activities,” said Gallagher.

The board will send out a letter in late August, informing all families about the fee. In an ideal situation, the fee should be collected by late September. Unfortunately, when it comes to sports, the fee can only be sent once the student is guaranteed a spot on the team. Moreover, sports are seasonal; thus the late September deadline isn’t applicable to seasonal sports.

The Board will review the fee annually, but it will be implemented “until further notice”, said Gallagher.