MSHSL uses unexpected profit to reduce fees for member schools

Published 7:34 pm Tuesday, August 10, 2021

The Minnesota State High School League last Tuesday, approved a credit to member districts in the upcoming 2021-22 school year to the tune of $1.063 million dollars.

The credit comes after the League came away from 2020-21 with an unexpected surplus due in part to forgiveness on a Paycheck Protection Program loan, attendance at winter and spring tournaments, sponsorships and events  televised by the League’s broadcast and streaming partners.

Sixty percent of the $1.063 million will go to reducing activity registration fees from $225 to $160 for each registered activity. The remaining 40% will be used to reduce MSHSL enrollment fee per participant from $6.35 to $4.60.

“The Board of Directors met and approved a 2021-2022 Budget Adjustment, and consequently approved a reduction of membership dues for the 2021-2022 school year,” said board president Tom Jerome, the superintendent of schools in Roseau in a press release. “This is terrific news for our member schools and we look forward to an exciting year filled with opportunities and growth for our students, member schools and all others associated with the Minnesota State High School League.”

The announcement will undoubtedly be welcome news for districts who were forced to grapple with a sudden and hefty increase in membership fees last year that came in the form of two COVID-19 fees based on enrollment and split between two payments.

Schools with the largest enrollments were charged a total of $11,000 while smaller schools were being charged $1,000.

But there was pushback from districts who questioned the transparency of the league as well as the fairness in some cases. Lyle-Pacelli for instance was charged $1,500 for each school, even though the two schools co-op in all sports except for cross country.

At the time, the two schools decided not to pay the fees until they could learn more.

“It is something that we’ll have to discuss. The MSHSL hasn’t really told us how they’re going to correct this and there is no guarantee that they won’t tack on more fees to us in the future,” Pacelli principal Kane Malo said back in November of 2020. “It’s really unfair with us being (a co-op) with Lyle. We’re playing one football team, but we’re paying double the amount for the sport. Both of us are paying the same amount at Austin High School.”

Lyle opted to pay the fee, but Pacelli has held out.

“We’ve been dragging our feet waiting for them to tell me what happens if we don’t,” Malo said last Wednesday, indicating that that the fact he hasn’t heard from the MSHSL indicates they were working toward finding a better solution. Last week’s news backs that up and Malo is happy there is a more equitable balance among schools.

“It’s nice they are taking some of their profits and lowering some of the school fees,” Malo said. “It’s coming off COVID and budgets are tight.”

Likewise, Austin High School Activities Director Lisa Quendow, who is also on the MSHSL board, said that the move to credit schools with this money shows that the league was willing to do what they could to reduce the burdens in a difficult situation.

“I think the league office did a great job really doing the best job it could,” she said.

APS ultimately paid the fees but was able to avoid transferring that increase down to students.

“We haven’t raised activity fees for 12 years,” she said. “We try to provide the opportunity for all students to participate who can participate.”