Fees are going up to play sports and other extra-curricular activities at Petersburg schools. Petersburg’s school board approved those changes Tuesday and heard about other changes for school activity participation rules.

The school district’s activities director Jaime Cabral outlined the reasoning behind an activity fee increase for next year.

“We did put an increase on activity fees a little bit knowing that Alaska Marine Highway prices have increased this past year two times throughout the school year, looking to move it up to 120 (dollars),” he explained. “And not sure with the ferry system of what it’s gonna look like as well. We might possibly, maybe, hopefully not to have to fly.”

Having to fly students to some competitions may be necessary next fall. Cabral noted the state’s proposed schedule for November has only one ferry making stops in Petersburg.

“So we are trying to work around that schedule and look at that because it is not pretty,” Cabral said. “So June 22nd is our phone calls in for the winter schedule just to help out because there are a lot of communities that will affect. And we have nine activities going on at that time. So it will be fun.”
Fees will go up from 100 dollars to 120 dollars per activity. The annual household cap also will increase from 340 dollars to 500 dollars. Those are charged for high school sports and several other activities that involve travel out of town. The district also charges 500 dollars per activity for home school students to participate. That fee is not changing for next year.

The middle school fee was changed to a flat 50 dollars per activity. Families can apply for a waiver of the fees through the school district. The board approved the increases unanimously.

Board members also reviewed student, parent and coaches handbooks for the three schools. There will be a handbook change for students in activities. Following a change by the Alaska School Activities Association, the district is allowing for a reduction in activity suspension for the third time a student is caught using alcohol, drugs or tobacco. That suspension from competition and practice has been a year. Starting next year a student can reduce the suspension to six months by completing counseling and other requirements.

Board member Jay Lister liked that allowance. “I would think giving them the chance to come back and play again if they’re willing to go through all that other effort and counseling, it’s a lot to go through,” Lister said. “I think six months (would) be long to give them another chance to straighten themselves out.”

Principal Rick Dormer also outlined a few changes to the high school handbook covering personal electronics and returning to school after competition travel in a timely manner.

Dormer noted staff did not make any changes to the dress code section of the handbook, despite a student petition this year to allow leggings not covered by a long shirt or skirt. “It is still the same as it’s been for several years so as of this point leggings are still allowed, still allowed, as long as they’re covered up with a longer shirt or sweatshirt or something like that,” Dormer explained. “But the topic the students have brought forward is still very important and I’ve spoken with several students often and we’ve talked about it a lot with staff. Things got busy and we told them we really wanted to we wanted to spend time, we didn’t want to rush to make some policy, to be honest if we rushed too fast it would have been, we’re just gonna keep it exactly as it is.”

Dormer said staff will meet with students in the fall and ask them to propose wording changes to the dress code. The updated handbooks will posted on the schools website this month.