Dear Shorewood School Community Members,
Yesterday, many residents received their Shorewood Recreation and Community Services Summer Guide in the mail and expressed their disappointment regarding fees for some of the classes that had previously been offered free of charge. It was our intention to get the word out before the guide was distributed, and we apologize for our misstep, but we wanted to take this opportunity to clear up any misunderstandings and to explain the factors that contributed to this change.
Nearly seven years ago, the District made the decision to fund a number of summer recreation classes through summer school rather than through our Community Recreation Department. The reasoning behind this decision was that the District could then count summer school student participation in the formula through which the District receives its revenue from the State. If classes were full and students attended regularly (75% of the classes), this would then generate more funding than the fees charged through our Recreation Department.
This concept, however, has not been working well for the District. In fact, last year the District spent $138,000 more on summer school than it received in revenue. This was largely due to the fact that student participation in the enrichment courses decreased, which reduced the revenue to under what was previously received (as determined by a formula set by the Department of Public Instruction). Despite the fact that our Community Recreation Department regularly reminded families of the importance of attendance, we were still not able to get to a point where we generated the revenue needed to continue successfully.
Going forward, our plan is to charge reasonable fees for the summer enrichment classes through our Community Recreation Department and to entirely focus summer school on students needing additional academic support.
For comparison, the "Summer Strings" class registration fee in 2006 was $70 and included 15 classes, supplies, a T-shirt, a rehearsal, and a concert. The class fee was approximately $4.66 per class. Currently, the "Summer Strings" registration fee is $30 and includes 15 classes, supplies a T-shirt, a rehearsal, and a concert. The class fee is approximately $2 per class.
We understand that it's a financial hardship for some, so the Shorewood Recreation and Community Services Department offers financial assistance to Shorewood residents in the following ways:
If a participant is unable to pay their program fees in full at the time of registration, the Department offers a payment plan option.
Reduce / Waiver of Fees
The Shorewood Recreation and Community Services Department recognizes that some of the resident of the Village of Shorewood may require financial assistance to participate in recreation programs. If your child attends Shorewood Public Schools and has qualified for Shorewood's Nutritional Services Free and Reduced Meal Program, your student and family members may receive the reduced program fees.
In addition to our District changes, there have also been a number of changes made at the State level regarding how school districts can use funds that come into the District to support community recreation programs. The funds used to support these efforts are located in "Fund 80". Fund 80 is revenue that comes into the District through recreation program revenue and Fund 80 tax levy support. This revenue is outside of funds that support our schools. Currently, the Shorewood School District has a surplus in Fund 80.
So, why would we not use the fund balance in Fund 80 to subsidize the Recreation Department courses? Some Fund 80 revenue does help to offset the operation of the Recreation Department, while participation fees cover the rest. However, the surplus in Fund 80 was intentionally developed through the years to support facility improvements where recreation programming takes place. For example, some of the Fund 80 balance has been spent on the VHE pool and the SIS and Atwater tennis courts. All of these are sizable expenditures and our Community Recreation Department has carefully utilized Fund 80 and the fees collected to effectively manage its budget and to build the surplus to support long-range plans such as the above.
Finally, there have been recent rule changes regarding the use of funds through Fund 80. These changes have recently limited how Fund 80 Community Services dollars can be used, and we are currently waiting to hear from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction to see if school districts like Shorewood will be permitted to use these funds as planned.
Again we sincerely apologize for what feels to some as a sudden change, but we hope this communication helps clear up any misunderstandings. Our intent is to maximize how we use our available revenue as a school district and as a community recreation department. Making these changes and charging reasonable fees for community recreation classes is the correct fiscal approach, while still providing residents with high quality recreation opportunities in the summer and all year long.