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Rochester, MN (KROC-AM News) - The Rochester School District will be charging more for participation in athletic extracurricular activities during the upcoming 2023-2024 school year.

The Rochester School Board was briefed on the plan during its regular meeting Tuesday evening. Century High School Activities Director Mark Kuisle indicated the fees will increase by about 20% to avoid reducing programming. It's estimated the higher fees will generate about $100,000.

Rochester Public Schools
Rochester Public Schools
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Starting with the fall athletic season, the participation fee for football will increase from $215 to $255. The fee for being a member of a girl’s swim-dive team will rise from $180 to $215, while the fees for other activities will go from $155 to $185.

The highest participation fee will be paid by students involved in Alpine skiing during the winter sports season. The fee will increase from $300 to $360.

Rochester Public Schools
Rochester Public Schools
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Superintendent Kent Pekel did not object to the fee increases, but also described the nationwide trend of requiring families to pay participation fees as "unfortunate." He says research shows there has been a steady decline among low-income students in their participation in school-sponsored extracurricular activities since participation fees became commonplace in the 1980s. Pekel also suggested that eliminating those fees should come up for discussion when the school district develops its next strategic plan.

Rochester Public Schools
Rochester Public Schools
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In his presentation to the School Board, Kuisle agreed that the higher fees could hurt participation. He also noted the school district offers free participation to students eligible for free or reduced lunch and that efforts are made to reduce any barrier to participation if the parent/guardian brings their concerns to a coach or school administrator.

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