NEW MILFORD — An error within the spreadsheet formula for the schools’ budget means educators are now able to offset some of the pay to play and student parking fees.

The error caused school officials to reduce the budget by $50,000 more than needed, said Superintendent of Schools Joshua Smith at last week’s school board meeting.

That money will instead reduce the proposed fees for pay to play for student athletes and student parking, though both are still more than the last school year.

Pay to Play will now be $75 per student per season with a $300 family cap. Last month the board approved in a split vote to charge $125 per athlete per season with a $500 family cap as part of the board’s efforts to cut the proposed budget by $1.2 million to meet the figure adopted by voters. Pay to play was not in place last year.

Smith said the pay to play fees are the lowest in the area and students who receive free and reduced lunch won’t have to pay it.

The $50,000 will also be used to reduce the newly approved parking fee from $225 to $215. This is still $65 more than the $150 fee paid last year and was increased to close that $1.2 million gap.

“These were the two areas we heard were a double whammy for high school students, particularly upperclassmen who are athletes,” Smith said, adding this was a chance to address it.

Board members Joseph Failla, Wendy Faulenbach and Angela Chastain all opposed the proposition, saying it was still too much of a burden on high school families who must also pay for Advanced Placement exams. The three members opposed the fees last month as well.

Both Faulenbach and Chastain said there were other places in the budget where cuts could have been made instead of charging students.

Chastain pointed to the $14,000 paid to ticket takers and how the district plays four more games than required.

Failla said New Milford is a blue collar, middle class community and didn’t care that they had lower pay to play fees compared to the wealthier neighboring towns. He said he would rather set an example and not have a pay to play fee.

“It’s just, in my opinion, disgraceful that we’re going down this avenue,” he said. “We are better than this.”; 203-731-3345