A raise in cost for after school clubs and activities from $25 to $50 at Holliston High has many students and staff confused and, in some cases, angered. With fees for sports, busses, theatre, lunch, and parking, many feel as if they are being taken advantage of, but the issue is much more complicated than that.
With over 24 clubs (which can all be seen on the Holliston High School webpage) available to participate in, as well as an increasing push for students to find interests, students are filling up their time with numerous activities, ranging from Model United Nations to Nerd Club.
It is not uncommon for students to participate in more than one activity. Senior Julia Luo describes herself as someone who “dances, builds robots, governs the student body, and cries over fictional characters.” Yet the multiple interests can have financial consequences.
The $50 one time fee covers all clubs. It is not $50 per club, yet sports have a $200 fee and drama has a $100-$200 fee (depending on the part in the production one has). If one were to participate in either of those plus another club, the cost starts to add up.
“I wish we did not have to, but to keep having clubs we must have these fees,” Principal Nicole Bottomley said.
The fees mainly pay for the stipend of the advisors for each club and the use of school property. It is required by law that all school-sponsored clubs must have at least one adult faculty advisor. Since these activities do not take place during actual school hours, teachers who advise clubs have to take time out of their day to meet with and advise their groups.
Mrs. Bottomley said that rather than directly going towards the clubs that are charged, the money raised by the fees goes into a general fund that supports the school as a whole. For the most part, the fee only generates enough to pay for the stipends.
Fees differ for large-scale activities such as drama and sports because of cost versus budget. Sports, for example, have necessary equipment needed to play. A budget is put aside specifically for that. The $200 that people must pay only covers a small part of the cost (paying for coaches, busses, officials, etc…).
The expenses correlate with the cost to participate. Ally Rosati, stage manager for the Theatre 370 (the drama program), says that productions have a plethora of expenses including licensing and stage materials. Usually they break even, and occasionally make a profit, but it is raising funding to perform the show that is difficult.
Administration does try to make it fair, allowing tech crew and makeup to pay less due to the fact that less is required of them. To Rosati, the fee is still a nuisance in the sense that she “feels guilty for having her parents pay for it.”
“All these fees have their benefits,” said Bottomley. There is no separate budget for extra-curricular activities. Mrs. Bottomley continued, saying that despite state and federal funding, the school sometimes lacks the money to provide needed equipment and pay for personnel. The $25 charged in previous years was hardly enough to be of help.
Advisors are not noticing a real adverse affect on their clubs. In fact some barely notice the fee at all. Laura Bilodeau, director for the school’s concert and jazz band, said that jazz band enrollment has actually been increasing the last few years.
Both teachers and students are sympathetic to the idea that not everyone is able to afford the fee, yet may still wish to participate in clubs that interest them.
Ms. Bilodeau commented, “I understand why the fees are in place, but financial aid should be available to those who need it.”
Accommodations are in fact available. Students who believes they may not be able to afford the fee, but wishes to participate can talk to the administrators. Mrs. Bottomley bases her decision on a case-by-case basis and can waive the fee.
Clubs are a big part of school life.They provide opportunities for students to make lasting memories and new relationships. This dilemma affects the entirety of Holliston High’s Community.
Mrs. Bottomley said that, “As a school, academics are a priority, but I believe that extracurricular activities are also a very important part of school, and necessary for all students to develop their interests.”