The Reynoldsburg Board of Education has approved new start times for most school buildings and a minimal reduction in athletic fees for the 2013-14 school year.

The Reynoldsburg Board of Education has approved new start times for most school buildings and a minimal reduction in athletic fees for the 2013-14 school year.

The athletic participation fee was reduced $10, from $345 per student per sport to $335 per sport.

Board members said the $10,000 award from the Chris Spielman fund won in November 2012 could help reduce the fees by $10 a sport and would be a way to give back to the community.

The Central Ohio McDonald's co-op and Spielman organized a challenge for central Ohio high schools, where two high schools would receive $10,000 each for their athletic programs after community members voted online for their favorite high school.

Tricia Moore, director of shared services and partnerships for Reynoldsburg schools, said athletic fees were considerably higher in 2009, at $500 per sport, after a series of levy failures.

The school board lowered the fees to $240 per sport after the Touchdown Club, an athletics booster group, pledged to bring in about $100,000 a year to offset expenses.

"Fees were lowered, in part, because the Touchdown Club had made a pledge to provide at least $100,000 a year," she said. "Last year, the club failed to provide donations as promised."

In April 2012, the fees went from $240 to $345 per sport, with no cap on the number of sports or multiple students per family.

A May 9 memo from Athletics Director Jack Purtell said that in order to meet the requirement to keep the athletics program self-supporting, the participation fee should remain at $345.

Moore said the district filed a complaint against the Touchdown Club in late 2011 with the Ohio Attorney General's Office after the club refused to provide the district with its financial records.

"The school district covers administrative and safety-security costs related to athletics," she said. "All other costs, such as coaches' salaries, equipment, travel, etc., are covered by participation fees or by parent booster groups.

"The individual groups have been around for a long time, too. The Touchdown Club was the only one, as far as I know, that had formal nonprofit status and a bingo license. It raised money for all sports for many years. The individual groups often volunteered for the Touchdown Club and received a portion of revenue raised when they did.

"We are proud of Reynoldsburg athletic programs," she said. "Students, their families and the Reynoldsburg community have shown incredible dedication to athletics by fundraising, donating and cheering for their Raiders. Together with their efforts, we have maintained a highly successful program for the benefit of many children."

The $335 fee per student, per sport, with no caps, is due by Friday, Aug. 9, for the 2013-14 school year.

Daily schedule changes

School board members have also approved changes in when the school day starts and ends.

All elementary schools will begin classes at 8:05 a.m. and end at 2:35 p.m. Last year's schedule was 8:15 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.

The biggest changes will be at Waggoner Road Middle School and Waggoner Road Junior High School. Classes for both schools will start at 9:15 a.m. and end at 3:45 p.m.; the previous schedule started at 7:35 a.m. and ended at 2:05 p.m.

Hannah Ashton Middle School and the Reynoldsburg High School Summit campus will start earlier, at 7:25 a.m. instead of 8:15 a.m. and end at 1:55 p.m. instead of 2:45 p.m.

Classes at Baldwin Road Junior High and the Reynoldsburg High School Livingston campus will start at 8:55 a.m. and end at 3:25 p.m., instead of 7:35 a.m. to 2:05 p.m.

Superintendent Steve Dackin said the district had a committee looking at school schedules "for several months."

"I think choice is a big part of our programming, but choice is also very complex," he said. "Our BELL Academy principal, Erica Dodson, wanted us to change the high school bell schedule to align with the Columbus State Community (College) hours in that building, to maximize opportunities for students to take college classes."

He said the bus system is very complex in Reynoldsburg and that the district must also carve out extra time to transport students to band and orchestra classes.

Other reasons for the changes were that Herbert Mills became a "school of choice," so the district must transport students from across neighborhoods to that building. In addition, he said, there is a need to reduce operating costs and wear on an aging bus fleet.

Parent Brandi Myers said at the May 21 board meeting she did not understand why the new start times were not given to parents before the meeting, so parents could participate in a discussion before the vote.

"We feel like these things are being hidden from us," she said. "You should bring up these schedules ahead of time for us. Remember, there are many elementary students who are watched by high school students when they get off the bus. And a lot of people can't find baby sitters. Why does the bell schedule change every year?

"My kid already has a 45-minute bus ride and she goes to Summit Elementary," she said.