ACE Fees. The Semi-Details Emerge.

Concerning ACE fees. This is a good start. Check out the 3 links. Analyze. Ponder.

From Helen Williams at HPISD.

Thanks for your questions about the ACE fees.

The fees are collected to offset the considerable expense of running an athletic program that serves more than 1,550 UPDATE: 1,750 students in grades 7-12. Please note that many students participate in more than one sport. However, they are only required to pay one ACE fee per year. Students whose families cannot afford to pay the ACE fee may make a partial payment or apply for a hardship waiver.

Please remember that ACE fees are not subject to recapture by the state, so every dollar collected stays here in HPISD. Considering our current recapture rate is 70 percent, you can see the difference that makes.

In order to ensure accuracy, we are using audited figures from 2007-08 and 2008-09. Our books from 2009-10 are still being audited.

2007-08 2008-09
$1,794,995 – Athletic expenditures $1,859.813 – Athletic expenditures
   $390,587* – ACE fees collected    $388,708* – ACE fees collected

*Credit card back charges and partial payments cause these figures not to be exactly divisible by $250

Here is a closer look at the numbers from the major expense categories, which are backed up in detail with the attachments provided.

2007-08 2008-09
$963,162 – Payroll $989,887 – Payroll
$483,327 – Travel, dues & awards $565,576 – Travel, dues & awards
$210,867 – Supplies, materials & equipment $200,401 – Supplies, materials & equipment
$137,639 – Contracted services (officials, security, rental equipment & printing costs) $103,949 – Contracted services (officials, security, rental equipment & printing costs)

You can see that while the ACE fees make a difference and allow us to continue running a top-notch athletic program, they only cover a fraction of the total expenses. The details about other revenue sources, such as gate receipts, Sports Club donations and concessions are included in the revenue and expenditure attachment.

Regarding your question about how the money flows, the ACE fees are collected and deposited into the general fund out of which the Athletic Department expenses are paid. There is no need to create a separate ACE fee account because the money is completely accounted for through the budget coding system, which tracks money by not only department, but also by expenditure type. The level of detail is clearly spelled out in the expenditure summary report attachment.

We welcome the opportunity to provide a thorough and accurate explanation to our families.  

A few questions to get things rolling:  

  1. Shouldn’t the ACE fees be deposited into a separate athletic fund account? UPDATE. Helen Williams reponds:
    ACE fees are deposited into the general fund because the Athletic Department expenses are paid out of that account. There is no need to create a separate ACE fee account. The money is completely accounted for through the budget coding system (see attachments), which tracks every dollar by category. To use the analogy of a household budget, there is no need to set up a separate checking account for your mortgage payment, your electric bill, your water bill and your many other monthly expenses. You pay those bills from your general account, and you keep careful track of those expenditures.  The district operates the same way. 
    Also please note that like all Texas school districts, HPISD is required to use the accounting system developed by the Texas Education Agency. That system specifies categories and codes.
  2. These are broad categories. Where EXACTLY did the ACE fees go? UPDATE. Helen Williams responds: 
ACE fees are deposited into the general fund (detailed above).
The fees are one source of revenue to fund the HPISD athletic program. The revenue generated from the ACE fees helps offset the expense of running HPISD’s athletic program. HPISD has limited dollars to spend on all areas – academic and extracurricular. Because HPISD has very large participation in athletics, it follows that the expenses are considerable. Here are the breakdowns from the audited figures:
  • 2007-08: $1.8 million (ACE fees pay for 22%)
  • 2008-09: $1.9 million (ACE fees pay for 21%)
Remember, ACE fees are not subject to recapture by the state, which takes 70 cents of every locally collected tax dollar for redistribution.
Here are the student athletes, by campus & by school year:
  • 2007-08: 1,764 student athletes in grades 7-12
  • 2008-09: 1,987student athletes in grades 7-12

3. What happens when there is left over money from ACE fees? It just goes into the general budget? UPDATE. Helen Williams responds:

There is no leftover money because the ACE fees make up a small part of the athletic revenues . As you can see from the attachment, transportation costs alone aren’t covered by ACE fee revenues.

17 thoughts on “ACE Fees. The Semi-Details Emerge.

  • September 17, 2010 at 9:04 am

    Aren’t we getting cranked up about something that is merely intended to be additional funds for the district to compensate for recapture funds? What makes you think there is leftover money when total athletic expenses are $1.8m and only $400k in ACE fees? Why should the ACE fees be in a separate account?

    Given Ms. Williams reference to an attachment, I am sure there are other details that are not disclosed in your little summary. I think we’re digging for a controversy where there is none.

  • September 17, 2010 at 11:14 am

    This fee reminds me of all the “registration” fees that are paid everywhere when you sign up at the Y, sports clubs, camps, etc. Those fees usually are dumped into the general fund and are assessed only to create revenue.

    Excluding salaries, I can see how the ACE fee offsets many necessary expenses.

    I agree with AMD, please let’s move on.

  • September 17, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    Exactly AMD. This is a tempest in a teapot. I’ve paid the ACE fee since its inception when I had kids in the athletic program. I knew where the money went, generally. I never felt the need to have specific names of payees or know exact amounts paid.

    Merritt, it seems a little disingenuous to claim that “these are broad categories” when Ms. Williams indicates that the specific details are included in the attachments she sent. Show us the attachments before you insinuate that the district is hiding the ball.

  • September 17, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    I’d rather see the athletes pay some of their own way via ACE fees so that more $$ goes toward academics. Not saying that is how it works necessarily, but I can appreciate them paying for equipment, salaries, travel, etc. that non-athletes will never use.

  • September 17, 2010 at 5:04 pm

    Ms. Williams – Thank you for your very thorough and timely reply to the questions raised about the ACE fees. I’m sure it was time consuming and added to your already full plate. As evidenced by the super high parent satisfaction score for district communication, we appreciate all you do.

  • September 18, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    Glad you’re checking this out Merritt. $250 is excessive. You have to pay that for just cross country? It should be just a donation.
    Also, if the money is going into the general fund of a public entity, info on the fees is public record. Helen Williams isn’t being nice to look it up; it’s her duty under the law.

  • September 18, 2010 at 1:05 pm

    Other public schools’ fees are voluntary or non-existant.And Laurie – this isn’t the y, a camp or a sports club. Those are organizations that are free to charge whatever they want. This is a public school. Thank you again Merritt for looking into this.

  • September 18, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    Thanks Merritt for looking into this. $250.00 is excessive. It should be a donation. Helen Williams isn’t being nice for giving this information – it is her duty under the Open Records Law.

  • September 18, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    Just curious, do the band members, the Cheerleaders, the Belles and all similar organizations that utilize the school and staff have to pay an ACE fee?

  • September 18, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    Also,Laurie, this isn’t the y or a camp or a sports club. Thoses are organizations that are free to charge whatever they want. This is a public school. Other public school fees are voluntary or non-existant.

  • September 19, 2010 at 10:46 am

    HP cheerleading is a 100% percent self funded club and they take no money from the district. The annual family cost for having a daughter in cheerleading is approximately $2,000.00.

  • September 19, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    So it’s not the Y or camp. However, team sports in middle school are voluntary and not required by the district for graduation credits. Regular PE or tennis is offered to all students.
    Outside of athletics, my daughter is constantly asking for money to cover this or that at school. For ex., we had buy a TI 84 calculator costing $100 for math. We have to buy books from the supply room so that they are all the same version. These expenses are not voluntary.
    If you think the ACE fee is excessive, then talk to the coach. They will lower it. If you have the means to pay, think of it as a donation. It’s worth it.

  • September 19, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    JP, your comment that similar fees at other public school are voluntary or non-existent is a subject worth exploring. If so, why them and not us?

    Also, when you consider the massive amount of recapture meant to provide balance to “underfunded” districts, like Allen supposedly is, and then read about their spiffy new multi-million sports complex, well…

    BTW, our school administrators should not view Merritt’s enquiries as a threat. It’s a given that these are good people doing an outstanding job on our behalf.

  • September 20, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    Laurie, you raise a good point. Is the Ace fee tax deductible?
    And I’m just glad i dont have cheerleaders… whew!

  • September 20, 2010 at 3:45 pm

    I doubt the ACE fee is tax deductible. Don’t think the district has 501(c) status.

    By the way, don’t those other districts who don’t have ACE fees also have school buses owned by the district? ACE fees don’t appear to cover transportation costs, and, if they do, it would be just barely.

    Don’t forget, the district is not obligated to field any sports teams. If you don’t want to pay the ACE fee, perhaps, we could all come up with a way to fund the $400,000 shortfall to the athletic fund so that our kids can enjoy sports at the level they do now.

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