By Sue Kiesewetter
FAIRFIELD - A community group will be allowed to run a pay-to-participate program in the Fairfield Schools.
It is the third such group to win approval in the past three weeks after school boards in the Fairfield, Edgewood and Franklin districts cut sports, clubs and other activities after March levy defeats.
"It all comes down to the young people of this community and giving them a chance,'' said board member Michael Oler.
Just minutes after giving Promoting Activities for a Complete Education - PACE - the go-ahead to run an activities program, the board began the process of putting a 6.9-mill operating levy on the Aug. 3 special election ballot by declaring a need and asking the county auditor to certify the amount the millage would raise.
It is the same levy voters rejected last month, intended to have provided this district of 9,500 students about $9.1 million annually. Taxes would increase about $211 on a $100,000 house.
If the levy passes, PACE would not have to pay for sports and activities, the board said.
The board's action pleased parent Cynthia Butler, whose daughter, Justyn, plays on the senior high school's soccer team.
"It's very important for me to have her involved in sports because I truly feel it makes her a well-rounded person,'' Butler said.
In its resolution allowing PACE to move ahead, the board stipulated that the group was to bring back all activities offered during the current school year, at a cost estimated at $936,396.
Parent Keith Davis said he supported a proposal to have participants shoulder the cost of after-school activities but he thought the money should go through the schools rather than PACE.
"That's absolutely fair and right in my mind,'' Davis said. "It has to be free of any and all politics.''
The board's resolution calls for four payments to be made to the district, beginning with $306,231 due Aug. 4, which would pay for fall sports and marching band.
A second payment of $225,935 would be due Sept. 15, to cover the cost of clubs, music and drama programs, K-12. The third payment, $235,396 is due Nov. 3 and would cover winter sports. The final payment, $195,834, due Feb. 2, 2005, would cover spring sports.
"Dan Murray of PACE said the group plans to raise most of its funds through participation fees that have not yet been determined.
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