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Monday, July 18, 2011

Charging students for admission to athletic events

Question: Please explain the reasoning behind the board's decision to not charge students admission for athletic events. With the district crying poverty and blaming the taxpayers for the youth commission and other organizations now having to pay a fee to use the facilities one would think the district would want to raise any funds it can. Also, is there not a cost to hold these athletic events, i.e. lighting, paying the coaches, paying the teachers to sell tickets? Even if the district charged $1 for students it would be something. So, with the board deciding to decline this opportunity to make a little extra money, they shouldn't be telling the taxpayers, "They did it to themselves." Also, if they are not going to charge students, how about having the teachers volunteer to sell tickets instead of being paid?

Answer: This decision was the result of a cost/benefit analysis.

The position put forward in your question is one that was put forward in our conversation when we set the price for sporting events. The total amount earned by ticket prices for all sporting events last year was approximately $16,000. It's true that a portion of this revenue will be lost by allowing students to attend at no cost. At least one board member said approximately the same thing you said in your question: We say we need money but eliminate a revenue source, and that's a contradiction.

The counter-argument has a couple of strong points (and was the winning argument at the board meeting where this was decided):
  1. We ask parents to spend money for all sorts of things in order for their children to attend B-P, things like school supplies, tissues for the classroom, etc. We took this position in an attempt to accommodate people who felt strongly that those who use the supplies should pay for them and not pass the expense on to taxpayers who do not have children attending the district's schools. These expenses are unpopular with many parents. Allowing students into events at no cost is a very inexpensive way for the district to alleviate some part of those expenses.
  2. School sporting events provide a safe and low-cost form of entertainment for students and families. Increased attendance does not increase the cost of the events, so the more in attendance, the better. School spirit and camaraderie among students increase through involvement in such events, too -- whether the student is a participant in the sport or a fan in the bleachers. By reducing the price of admission, we hope to encourage more attendance.
Thus, at a comparatively small cost to the district, we can help provide some free entertainment to students. Kids have a place to go with their friends that is safe and doesn't cost their parents any money.

As for your comment, "...the district crying poverty and blaming the taxpayers for the youth commission and other organizations now having to pay a fee to use the facilities," communicating with one another via forums like Plain Talk can lead to misunderstandings because one cannot always pick up the "tone" of the writer. That being said, I think it's fair to say that you are assigning a position to "the district" that is a false one. Honestly communicating the financial position of the school district is a top-level obligation of the Board of Education. The reality is that we are enduring tough times and we try to be frank about it.

Requiring community groups to pay fees to use school facilities is a result of the laws governing contingency budgets in New York State. Residents voted down the proposed budget in May and, with the adoption of a contingent budget, we are required to charge for the use of facilities. It's really not a question of "blame" so much as a statement of fact. I don't recall an instance of such a comment from a school employee. Any employee who casts an aspersion at the voting public does so without the consent of the Board of Education. In all discourse about Broadalbin-Perth it is the strong desire of the board to maintain calm and rational conversations with all participants. Objective professionalism and courtesy on all sides will make difficult times easier.

- answered by Ed Szumowski, Board of Education President


  1. Your answer has left me confused and still not understanding the logic behind the board's dicision, for it is a contradiction. "This decision was the result of a cost/benefit analysis". One would think that the benefit of charging the students would far exceed the cost. I mean how much does it cost to put an "X" on somone's hand? Your answer did not justify the board's decision. Can you please elaborate?

  2. The cost vs benefit that was considered was that at a comparatively small cost to the district, we can help provide some free entertainment to students. Kids have a place to go with their friends that is safe and doesn't cost their parents any money.

    I didn't reply to the consideration of paying employees to work the admissions booth, sorry. This cost is a negotiated item during contracts and was not considered when discussing the ticket price. We can't force an employee to volunteer to sit in the booth. However we can and will discuss the idea of having only volunteers in the admissions process when the time comes.

  3. Why not have seniors work the ticket booths. They can apply the community service hours to their class that requires it, I believe it's the Politics in Government class. I have asked this question before and the concern of having students handle money was brought up which doesn't make sense because adults can be thieves as well. With everything being said about the board's decision and your attempt to justify it, I personally feel it was yet another poor financial move - the benefit would far exceed the cost and I don't believe the free admission will increase the attendance that much. The board should have done a study before making the decision - comparing a free admission for students game to a admission fee game. If free admission does not change attendance then the reasoning to provide a safe free environment wouldn't make sense. Another question - how will they beable decipher who is a BP student and who is an out of district student? This could result in yet another loss for the district.

  4. First, this explanation was not an attempt to justify anything. You asked for the reasoning and it has been provided. The Board believes this is a positive move and will find out whether it works as intended. If adjustments need to be made in the future, then we'll make them.

    We'll certainly take the ideas you offer on the topic of who works the booth into consideration when the time comes to discuss it.

  5. First, not an attempt to justify anything? The Board should be able to justify every single decision they make when they are spending or in this case declining our money. Secondly, yes I asked for the reasoning and in return you tried to provide a "good reason" aka JUSTIFY.
    justify verb a. to show a satisfactory reason or excuse for something done - and one was not provided. Until the next decsion - good day.