Unpaid activity fees may soon hit home for some Westborough High School students.
Those unpaid fees will affect Westborough High's Nov. 26 winter sports tryouts, Athletic Director Johanna DiCarlo told the school committee Wednesday night.
Fee collections are “getting a little bit better. But, the reality is, we have put in that students cannot participate in the next event if they have an outstanding balance,” DiCarlo said.
“And that’s where it becomes – speaking for myself – very difficult for me. We’re about to end the fall season and start the winter season. And I’m not sure what the number is, but it’s a pretty big list that came across my desk the other day of kids that haven’t paid yet.”
DiCarlo’s comments were part of a bigger discussion about students with outstanding fee balances participating in school activities, and collecting those fees. DiCarlo and Coordinator of Fine Arts David Jost participated.
School officials raised fees at Westborough High School and the Gibbons Middle School starting this fall, better aligning them with neighboring communities. The current fee is $200 per activity, with a $500 family cap.
“How can a student participate without paying, while others are paying and participating?” resident Judith Wilchynski asked.
“And how do you continue to ask a family to pay a balance that’s due if their child’s in a fall sport, where the fall sport has now come to an end? I have no incentive to pay that amount when you’ve been after me for three or four months to pay it.”
Wilchynski said that “the fact is, we have over $50,000 in unpaid bills right now from fall activities.” However, School Superintendent Marianne O’Connor said that “this is the first I’m hearing tonight that we have $50,000” owed.
School Committee Chairman Ilyse Levine-Kanji said students with outstanding fee balances are “not going to be allowed to graduate.”
“I think it’s getting people’s attention,” she said.
Vice Chairman Stephen Doret said he feels “some kind of a penalty associated with not doing it, such as they can’t participate in any future events until the past due is paid.”
DiCarlo said “this is the first time that folks are going to be hit with bills of $500, as opposed to $185.”
“This has been a new system this year, and I think everyone is still somewhat getting used to it,” People keep asking if participation numbers have gone down. We’re not going to know how any of this is going to affect us until we go through a full cycle of it,” she said.
The upcoming winter sports tryouts are calling attention to this issue.
“The team gets picked in two or three days. By law, we’ve got to provide that kid a tryout at some point. So if they pay their bill two or three days in, now the coach is expected to give them another tryout? It just is really really going to complicate things,” DiCarlo said.