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Fairmont Area Schools: No fees for activities

FAIRMONT — The Fairmont School Board recently passed a motion to suspend sports and other activities fees for the coming school year.

The action was in response to a decision by the Minnesota State High School League to reduce the number of competitive events for soccer, volleyball, cross country, girl’s tennis, football, baseball and softball.

Board member Mike Edman explained the board’s decision.

“The High School League and the Department of Education, the League in particular, have dramatically impacted our sports calendar year for our students,” he said. “They’ve moved sports from one season to another, which may or may not happen. They’ve punted entirely on the winter sports season and, most significantly, the sports that are being allowed to happen have been shrunk pretty substantially in the amount of competition they do.

“I considered whether or not we should do a reduction fee, but frankly one less thing for our students and families to worry about right now is something we should do. It’s not going to have a substantial or significant impact on our budget. Our expenses for operating sports are down significantly because of that reduced amount of competition, so I think it’s the right thing to do.”

Activities director Matt Mahoney also commented on why removing participation fees is a good deal for all involved.

“Right now, half of our transportation is now cut,” he said. “We don’t have to pay for any officials outside of soccer for this fall. Our workers’ load is very minimal as well. We’re not going to be selling any tickets this fall, and I think soccer is going to be the only thing that’s going to need somebody to run a scoreboard, clock and a PA system. So, really, all our jobs across the board have been cut in half.

“For example, if we host a volleyball meet, you have to have somebody taking the tickets, working the scoreboard, supervisors, and there’s just a lot of moving parts to it. With football, the number of people we have supervising is more than any workers at any other event that we have. With that, we have people on the opponents’ sideline, people in the press box, and there’s so many moving parts.”

Mahoney noted that he and others involved are simply trying to take things one day at a time.

“We’re trying to get the fall sports up and running,” he said. “There’s been a lot of talk and discussion with not just having soccer, cross country and tennis starting, but the state just released information that for football we get three weeks of practice, and volleyball can do the same thing.

“Our window for that is Sept. 14 to Oct. 3. So we can have 12 practices in that window. Then the spring sports can practice from Aug. 5 to Aug. 28, so they also get a handful of practices to get all their stuff in. It’s a good way to kind of keep kids engaged a little bit so they have something to do after school, and I think it’s a good thing.”

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