Davenport schools’ new policy waives activity fees, but new concerns arise

Local News

Officials don't know how they're going to foot the bill

A new rule in the Davenport School District intended to help students participate in activities raises some concerns among parents.

School board members voted unanimously last night to approve the policy to stop charging students for curricular and extracurricular activities.

Those fees were in effect for school-sponsored functions.

The school district now provides a waiver or sliding scale for students who can’t afford the price associated with a lot of clubs.

A memo from Associate Superintendent Rob Scott indicates the new activity policy took more than a year to come up with.

The district now covers the costs of 12 clubs but right now, no one seems to know where that money will come from.

“Those fees really add up,” says Gina Hale, who has two Davenport students involved in extracurricular activities.

“The bow tie, the tucked shirt, then we have to buy pants and shoes and everything and if she were playing football, most of that would be provided for her,” she says.

Between one daughter in choir and another in robotics, Hale was racking up about $400 a year in extracurricular costs.

“It could go to medications, it could go to college funds, it could go to paying off the credit card, it could go to a lot of things,” she says.

The Davenport School District is now absorbing costs for show choir and 11 other clubs.

But it’s a $700,000 – $800,000 hit for the cash-strapped district.

Hale says that’s concerning to her, especially in a district that’s been overspending it’s legal limit for years.

“You can only spend so much for student, period. So if we spend a ton of money on extracurriculars, that’s going to reduce the amount of money we can spend in other areas because, that’s just all you get,” Hale says.

She’s also concerned that not all activities are included.

“If the issue is equity and making sure that every kid who wants to play can play and giving every kid as broad and diverse education as possible, then the question isn’t, ‘How do we fund music?’ The question is, ‘How do we fund all the extracurriculars?'” she says.

Hale says the discussion is a positive step, but the policy might not be the right solution.

“I heard board members takling about, how do we give kids access? That’s a good direction for our board to take,” Hale says.

“I’m not so sure that such a narrow policy is really going to do what they want it to do.”

Davenport’s school board president, Ralph Johanson, tells Local 4 News that he doesn’t know where that money is going to come from, either.

Johanson says it’s a concern for him, too.

He said he brought up with the new superintendent because the district is already in a two-year plan to cut $13 million from it’s budget.

Johanson says he was told the district would “find the money.”

You can find the new policy here.

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