Previous Discussion Topics
Band Fees Revisted
(This is a more recent discussion of Fees)

November 4, 2001

Dear Fellow Boosters:

I see from the archives that we have discussed band fees previously but that was Summer of 1998. There may have been other discussions more recently that were not archived. I have also reviewed the John Overton Band Handbook on line.

We are in the process of restructuring our band fees. I would be interested in what other bands do. Our school district provides our band room and two directors to teach classes (Jazz Band , Concert Band, Symphonic Band, Percussion) and conduct marching band, pep band, winter guard, etc. The band also receives a few dollars per student per year for things like copies and classroom supplies, just like other classes at the school.

All other expenses (uniforms, replacement instruments, music, transportation, instrument repair, music, additional staff, etc.) must be paid directly by students or through boosters. Each year we budget our expenses, subtract out an estimate of fundraising income and the balance is what must be paid by individuals as a band fee.

For the past couple of years, this fee has been $600. We also have a points system for fundraising which will allow families to reduce their fee payment to $350 if they reach a minimum level of fundraising. Fees are due in installments in May, July, and September. Students have additional expenses such as instrument rental, books for band class, concert uniform, gloves, shoes, socks, reeds, valve oil, etc. . Probably another $100+ per year.

I would like to know what other bands policies are. Specifically:

bulletDo you have a single band fee or do you break it up into categories such as band camp, transportation, instruments, etc.?
bulletHow much does each student pay?
bulletDo you have a different fee for instrument players and color guard and students who do not march?
bulletAny other information or comments you feel useful, especially copies of any documents you would be willing to share.

Thanks,

Tom

Tom Bensberg
Henry Clay H.S. Band 
tombens@lex.infi.net Lexington, KY

Fellow Boosters

I'm glad Tom brought the subject up again. Band fees are something we all have to deal with. Though, like Tom, I don't have a student in band anymore, I'm in close contact with the band and parents.

At S. Oldham marching band is extra curricular. There are no funds provided by the school board for this. A budget is prepared each year it is divided equally by all participating members in the marching band. The students have to fundraise or pay the band fee. It's usually $550 - $600. The expenses are similar to what Tom mentions.

For the past 3 years it has included a "uniform rental" fee, to build up a reserve to for replacement uniforms. dry cleaning is part of the budget.

Additionally students have to purchase band shoes. They also have to rent an instrument except for larger school owned instrument and "pit" instruments. They also have to pay for a meal on competition days. For the past 3 years, they have been provided with anther meal by the parents.

Do other schools charge a "fee" for the use of a school owned instrument? If so how much?

Part of the band fee covers the school busses at $1.00 per mile, plus an hourly rate for the driver.

Tom, can you explain how this works?

>We also have a points system for fundraising which will allow
>families to reduce their fee payment to $350 if they reach a
>minimum level of fundraising.

I look forward to reading other comments about this subject.

Jean Firkey, 
S. Oldham parent alumni

Tom,

You don't want to hear this, but Pocono Mountain has no marching band fee. Uniforms, replacement instruments, music, and transportation all either come out a budget(s) director has or are special purchases approved by the board. We have "band camp" at the school, and the kids travel by yellow dog, not Greyhound. The board has provided a straight truck (ca. 24 ft.) for the band's use, and though it was painted for the band, it's used during the school day by the maintenance dept, so we can't customize (although the pit crew has become VERY adept at packing).

We do pay for all of our additional staff (beyond the director and asst director who receive stipends from the district) and also pay for drill arrangement, but that comes out of the Boosters general fund and is what we fundraise for. Kids do have to buy their shoes ($35) though many make do with used shoes ($5).

I am sure that if we had a $600 fee, we'd lose at least half of our kids...

John Matras
Pocono Mountain HS bands dad emeritus (Swiftwater, PA)
West Chester University Marching Band dad (West Chester, PA)

I have to agree with John on losing half the band. Except we would lose the whole band.

Harri
Asst. Marching Band Director,
Upper Dauphin Area High School
Rockville Percussion Ensemble,
Marching Tech.

John,

Thanks for the feedback. I'm delighted to hear so many of your expenses are covered by the school. We too travel by school bus, etc. Unfortunately, all those expenses are borne by the band boosters.

Tom

Howdy.

Band fees are always a thorn in our side, too.  Our director and his staff of ELEVEN are paid by the district.  They also paid for uniforms, and a little of the bus costs.  The annual costs of band camp (out of town), busses,  trips, shoes, band shirts, dry cleaning, etc. is divided among the kids.  This year it is $500.00.  They can fundraise or just pay.  The BPO has fundraisers going constantly, usually 4 or 5 at once.  

Next year we want to go to Hawaii and that will be an additional $1500 or so per kid.  The school district will not allow us to exclude kids that cannot pay.  We have a few that never pay and never make any effort to fundraise or make payments.  This really gripes me as marching band is an elective and therefore extra.  If you can't pay you shouldn't be allowed to go.  I have 2 kids in the band and have never paid a penny as they fundraise constantly...it can be done!

On a lighter note,  We received a Superior rating at ASU Band Day yesterday!  The show this year is awesome!  We're off to California on Thursday for the All Western Band Review in Riverside and the following week is State Marching Festival.  That will be the end of our season, what a ride!

Diana Wilson, Co VP Fundraising
Mesquite High School Marching Wildcats
Gilbert, Arizona

Harri

How much does it cost your band members to participate in band or doesn't it because the board covers all the costs?

Jean Firkey, 
S.Oldham, parent alumni

Do you have a single band fee or do you break it up into categories such as band camp, transportation, instruments, etc.?

We have a single band fee of $370 per year, paid in 5 installments June-October. This money all goes into our Booster budget, where there are line items under main headings of (for ex.) staffing, music arranging, transportation, uniforms, props, flags and equipment, etc. This is the first year we have tried to fund the entire year with band fees, only. I must admit, a few fundraisers have crept in, though, and I can't say till spring if we were successful in raising enough to start the next season out well. We pay for 4 support staff, and the county pays for our director, only. The county has also, in the past, paid for half our uniforms. They also normally provide transportation to the closer competitions, including providing an equipment truck and driver (if truck hasn't broken down again!) Though we would love to, we have not gone to BOAor TOB yet, because of what it would do to our budget (travel expenses, mainly)!

Band camp is at the high school during day hours, so no expense there, except for staff, which is the same staff we use for the season.

Do you have a different fee for instrument players and color guard and students who do not march?

No, everyone pays the same band fee. Reason being, they are all provided with uniforms and instruction, and all have need of transportation. The one exception: we usually cut the guard managers some slack, since they aren't actually performing. We do provide them transportation and instruction, though, so we don't let them off scott free.

Sherrie Andrews
Lord Botetourt HS
Daleville, VA

It doesn't cost anything. The school picks up everything. Unless we are taking our 4 year trip, then the students pay for it through fund raising or paying it themselves. We are allowed one big trip every 4 years. Of course, we don't get a lot. We need new equipment big time. The director asked for percussion equipment for this year and it was approved initially. Then they decided the wrestling team needed there own room so we are still using equipment that's being held together with duct tape. Thanks to the Harrisburg Westshoremen Sr. drum and bugle corp, we borrowed 2 snares and a set of quints. that are only 5 years old instead of 10. ;-)

Harri
Asst. Marching Band Director,
Upper Dauphin Area High School
Rockville Percussion Ensemble,
Marching Tech.

Ditto for Pocono, including the trip, though Pocono usually takes a "short trip" two years after the "big trip" which has been Disney back to at least '81. And also for the borrowed and battered equipment, although lately we've been able to shame the board into providing more for the band...

Marching band, btw, is extracurricular, but then so are sports and things like the chess club and scholastic scrimmage, who also get transportation to their meets.

John Matras
Pocono Mountain HS bands dad emeritus (Swiftwater, PA)
West Chester University Marching Band dad (West Chester, PA)

 

Tom,

 
I wish we all had it as great as John tells us it is at Pocono Mountain HS.  I also know that the high cost of being in the band program is the greatest limiting factor that we have in getting our band to a size that would allow us to compete better with the larger units that we come across at many of the competitions.
 
We, like most programs today, do not receive any financial assistance from the school board.  We are just thankful that they still pay the director, that was in question just two months ago.  The board has given the director a small allowance for working all summer while the other teaching staff are off attending classes on their own, resting, taking vacations, or some even doing part time work, but the allowance for the director was cut only to be protested by many in the administration and it was, at least for now, reinstated.
 
We do not have uniforms so the students are required to pay for costumes, which of course are different every year.  The boosters pay for all transportation and since the buses are not owned by the school system and are used by the driver/ owner for many other purposes, we use chartered coaches for most out of town events.  We pay for all supplies, music, instruments, repairs, and we purchased chairs and music stands last year.  We pay for the food for summer band camp and for the all day Saturday practice sessions.  We own an 18' box van, a 45' trailer, and a riding tractor to mow the practice field.  We have to borrow the practice field from a neighbor since the school does not provide us with one and we can't use the football field nor would we want to since we would damage it with all of the practice that we do. We pay for the insurance on the vehicles as well as insurance for the instruments while we are traveling.  Lastly, we of course pay for all of the staff other than the director.
 
The total budget requires that each student is responsible for $1,250.  plus an additional $125 for tuxedo pants and shirt (this is the only "uniform" that we wear when not in costume).  Like I said at the top of this response the cost is a big limiting factor in getting a larger band.  We are fortunate to have 113 members which includes the guard members.  The fees are accepted in any form that they can be given, cash up front, monthly installments starting in June and running through Nov., we accept MC/ Visa but don't like to use it due to the fees, and of course the ever present fund raisers.
 
Isn't Band Fun!!!  We think so even with all of the financial strain, it is priceless to see the kids grow with these experiences which pass so quickly.
 
GOOD LUCK TO ALL THAT WILL BE ATTENDING BOA NATIONALS THIS WEEK!!!!
 
Daryl Marsh, President
Ooltewah HS Band Boosters, Inc.

Well, I don't want to poormouth after other things I've said, but as far as our equipment goes, it's more like a wedding than a band, especially with the something old and something borrowed. The directors and principal did come up with a new pit trailer out of their respective budgets and surprised us with it the other day, and you would have thought it was Christmas morning from the way the pit crew reacted. :-)

But our quints belong to our percussion tech and have to be repaired almost every week, and we've borrowed drums from drum corps and other sources... Our instruments may be free--other than the student -owned horns--but the ages of most of them can be measured in decades. They're older than the students playing them. I've got to admit we marvel at the bands who arrive at competitions in motor coaches and have fitted semi trailers and wonder what their budgets must be... And I'm certainly happy that we're only an hour from ACCs. And I'm glad that I made enough of a fuss before the school board last year about the potential effects of the school breakup that they promised that there would be no cutbacks in the support of extracurricular activities. As the Rolling Stones said, you can't always get what you want, but...you might just get what you need...

John Matras
Pocono Mountain HS bands dad emeritus (Swiftwater, PA)
West Chester University Marching Band dad (West Chester, PA)

MHSBandMomX2@aol.com wrote:

> Next year we want to go to Hawaii and that will be an additional $1500
> or so per kid.

Diana, our Band leaves for Hawaii later this month!

> The school district will not allow us to exclude kids that cannot
> pay. We have a few that never pay and never make any effort to
> fundraise or make payments. This really gripes me as marching band is
> an elective and therefore extra. ...

Diana, does the same school district require that kids get yearbooks, or Senior pictures, or Class Rings, etc., even if the kids don't pay for those electives? If not,... why the hypocrisy on the school district's part?

Raymond Myers, Booster Prez Emeritus 
John Overton HS Band Boosters
Nashville, Tennessee USA

John Matras wrote:

> ...I am sure that if we had a $600 fee, we'd lose at least half of our
> kids...

John, some think if we had a fee as low as $600, we'd DOUBLE our band!!! :) I guess it's a matter of perspective. :)

Raymond Myers
John Overton Band Booster
Nashville, Tennessee USA

Raymond Myers wrote:

>
> John Matras wrote:
>
> > ...I am sure that if we had a $600 fee, we'd lose at least half of our kids...
>
> John, some think if we had a fee as low as $600, we'd DOUBLE our band!!!
> :) I guess it's a matter of perspective. :)
>

Indeed, the other side of the same coin. It's unfortunate that half the kids in your district who would like to march but can't for financial reasons are losing that experience. I can think of any number of specific examples of kids whose parents are eking out a living, and the kids working at random hours during marching season (thank you, cooperative employers) our of necessity, who if faced with a band fee would have to forego membership. For the record, PM's marching band is extracurricular.

For those saddled with band fees: Is the fee just for marching band, or for curricular in-school sit-down band?

John Matras
Pocono Mountain HS bands dad emeritus (Swiftwater, PA)
West Chester University Marching Band dad (West Chester, PA)

> We are in the process of restructuring our band fees.
> I would be interested in what other bands do.

I am almost embarrassed to say that some of our parents were unhappy last year when our band fee was raised from $200 to $250.00 at the beginning the season. Castle's Marching Band is co-curricular.

> Our school district provides our band room and two directors to teach
> classes (Jazz Band , Concert Band, Symphonic Band, Percussion) and
> conduct marching band, pep band, winter guard, etc. The band also
> receives a few dollars per student per year for things like copies and
> classroom supplies, just like other classes at the school.

This is pretty much the same with the Warrick County School Corp. We have a freshman band class combined with the concert only students (during the fall only), a concert band, and a symphonic band. A small stipend is provided for the head director of marching band (similar to what a coach would receive for extra duty). The director of the school musical also receives a small stipend. Jazz band and basketball pep bands are extra-curricular and directors do this job with no additional compensation.

> All other expenses (uniforms, replacement instruments, music, transportation,
> instrument repair, music, additional staff, etc.) must be paid directly by
> students or through boosters. Each year we budget our expenses,

Again this pretty much mirrors Castle. Students using school owned instruments (sousaphones, percussion, mellophones etc.) are required to pay $50.00 per semester to cover the cost of repairs, replacement, etc. The budget this year for the Castle Band Boosters is around $200,000.00 2001-02 Band Fees of $250 per student pays for band camp staff salaries, shoes, gloves, color guard equipment and accessories, uniform cleaning, transportation costs to contests, etc., etc. Concert-only students are only required to pay half that amount as they don't benefit from the summer staff.

> For the past couple of years, this fee has been $600. We also have a points 
> system for fundraising which will allow families to reduce their fee payment to
> $350 if they reach a minimum level of fundraising. Fees are due ininstallments
> in May, July, and September.

Fundraising makes it possible for a student to earn their entire amount. This option in combination with a willingness to work privately with families that the fee would create a hardship for, help to insure that a student is not excluded for monetary purposes.

> Students have additional expenses such as instrument rental, books for band class,
> concert uniform, gloves, shoes, socks, reeds, valve oil, etc. . Probably
another
> $100+ per year.

Somewhat similar here, however concert uniforms have been purchased and are provided for the concert and symphonic bands.

Ron Hanes
Castle Band Booster Alumni
Newburgh, IN

Hi all,
I'm getting into this a little after the fact. I was in FL when this was being discussed. Did anyone have a follow up to Raymond's comments below. How can school districts tell booster organizations that parents don't have to pay if they can't. Do the kids have to be allowed to go on trips if they can't afford pay or don't fundraise? That seems extremely unfair, if that's the case.

At S.Oldham marching band is extra curricular and all the fees are for MB. They now collect a small fee for uniform cleaning. There was talk of requiring students, that used school owned instruments, like tuba or marimba, to pay an instrument fee. I don't know if that's in effect or not. It only seems fair because, a student that plays a flute, or trumpet for instance, has to own or rent their instrument.

That's my $.02 worth.

Jean Firkey, 
S. Oldham parent alumni

Jean,

If the district is willing, as is ours, to let kids play district instruments w/o a fee, all the better. It certainly saves a lot of bickering over whether the kids/parents should pay more for playing the new instrument than for the battle-dented veteran. And it also makes it possible for the director to encourage kids to change instruments. Most kids don't start on sousaphone, for example. Our tuba section leader last year was originally a sax player--and still played sax in the jazz band--but developed into a excellent tuba player, making it into the all-state orchestra. He's now majoring in music ed... It probably wouldn't have happened if there had been a band fee. Yes, I know parents have responsibilities, but I can here 'em saying, 'You're not switching my daughter to horn for marching band after I just bought her this Bach Strad trumpet!' So it works both ways, I suppose.

John Matras
Pocono Mountain HS bands dad emeritus, Swiftwater, PA
West Chester University Marching Band dad, West Chester, PA

> .....Did anyone have a follow up 
> to Raymond's comments below. How can school districts
> tell booster organizations that parents don't have to pay if
> they can't. Do the kids have to be allowed to go on trips
> if they can't afford pay or don't fundraise? That seems
> extremely unfair, if that's the case.

Jean,

I'll share a little more. In Nashville, the picture is somewhat muddled, school bureaucrats being what they are. :) Officially, if it is an official school activity (and don't ask me how "extra-curricular" figures into that, because the school bureaucrats can't/won't answer that question), then all kids have to be allowed to participate, whether they can pay or not. That seems reasonable enough, but even that rule falls apart on magnet schools and lots of other things, so hypocrisy abounds.

However, according to "policy" (whatever that means!!!), these non-paying kids can be required to participate in fund-raising activities. That is the "out" for schools and school booster clubs.

So, as long as the school (or booster club) officially offers a fund-raising alternative to paying cold, hard cash, then the school (or booster club) can do an event without all kids being "allowed" to participate.

To my knowledge, the issue has never gotten very far, though I know of at least a couple of instances where cry-baby parents complained to a certain friendly school administrator, who tried to stir that pot.

Fortunately, those up the line had better sense and put a stop to it. As I've stated on other issues, a band trip is no different than buying a class ring or yearbook, etc., IMHO. The sad fact is that every family can't participate in every "extra" and there is nothing illegal about that,-- and school boards either need to (1) pay up as the omnibus responsible party, or (2) keep their noses out. IMHO. :)

Raymond Myers, 
Ex Booster Prez & Current Windmill Tilter-Atter 
John Overton Band Boosters
Nashville, Tennessee USA

> ..... Did anyone have a follow up
> to Raymond's comments below. ...

Well, Jean, perhaps I should apologize for responding to your request so fully? ~wink~

> How can school districts
> tell booster organizations .....

You asked an extremely good question and one that can't be summarily answered. It needs a lot of thought. I'm glad that John and Raymond B., et al, have helped out to analyze the issues from various perspectives. A quick thoughtless answer would be no answer. However, even with a lot of analysis, we still may never find a single answer to your question, because it seems no two school districts/bands have the same facts. But the discussion helps! :)

Raymond Myers
John Overton HS
Nashville, Tennessee USA

 

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