Sports fees may increase

Athletic fees at the high school may increase this fall for the first time since 2003 because of rising costs that can no longer be covered by donations or revenue, James Mealey, the school district’s business administrator, told the School Committee on Monday. Current user fees generate about $200,000 annually, but about $243,000 is needed to break even, he said. To participate on school teams, students pay $300 for the first sport and $50 for a second sport; there is no fee for a third sport, and the maximum for a family is $600. The school board’s athletic subcommittee is recommending that the fee for a second sport be increased to $150, students be charged $75 for a third sport, and the family cap be increased to $750. The subcommittee attributed the need to increase the fees to rising fuel prices for transportation, and the cost of switching from the Cape Ann League to the Merrimack Valley Conference next year. School Committee chairwoman Christine Allen said it was “a little disturbing” that the deficit couldn’t be paid out of the general fund, and said the committee would take another look at the budget before making a decision on raising the sports fees. - Katheleen Conti