Westborough High To Step Up Activity Fee Collections

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The increased activity fee for Westborough Public Schools has a "big list" of outstanding bills from the fall. Photo Credit: File photo

WESTBOROUGH, Mass. — Things may get "uncomfortable" as Westborough High School begins enforcement of activity fee penalties, Athletic Director Johanna DiCarlo told School Committee members Wednesday night.

"It is just going to really, really complicate things," said DiCarlo, noting that she is required to hold those who haven't paid the fees for fall activities out of winter tryouts.

"There is a penalty in place, but it's going to get very, very uncomfortable for us."

The increased fee — $200 per activity with a family cap of $500 — is also charged for intramurals and fine arts programs.

Along with being precluded from tryouts, those who have not paid their bills will not be able to receive a cap and gown at year's end.

The amount that needs to be collected was reported to be $50,000. Committee members questioned the accuracy of that number, but DiCarlo and Westborough Fine Arts director David Jost agreed that it was a "big list" of people who have not yet paid.

Regardless of the amount, committee members said notifying those who owe money and making sure to collect it is important going forward, especially with such a tight budget.

"We need to get the money because otherwise teachers have to go," School Committee Vice Chairman Stephen Doret said. "This is serious stuff."

Committee members agreed that emails and phone calls need to go out to those who owe money, and that many families may simply not be aware of the new policies.

"I want to make sure from my viewpoint that everything that has been done is crystal clear," Jost said. "I don't think an email bill is sufficient. I think it needs to be a paper bill."

A ConnectEd message will go out to all those involved, and the School Committee will discuss the issue at a future meeting, after hammering out a more detailed plan to collect the fees.

The committee agreed that the onus should not fall on DiCarlo and Jost to turn into bill collectors.

Schools Finance Director Irene Oliver said she expects parents to get on board with the fees before long.

"Once parents realize that we're going to start sticking to the policy, I think they will start paying," she said.

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