South-Western City Schools to reduce pay-to-participate fees

By Dedra Cordle
Staff Writer

South-Western City School officials have agreed to make additional modifications to the pay-to-participate fee schedule for the 2023-2024 school year.

At its meeting on March 13, the board of education approved a motion that called for the current pay-to-participate fee schedule to be reduced by 25 percent.

Although some members of the board said that while they would have liked to have seen the participation fees for athletics and other extracurricular activities eliminated outright, they called this unanimous decision “a compromise” on a promise the board made to the community more than a decade ago.

“I would like to get rid of them all the way,” said board member Chris Boso, “but I think as a board we came together to talk about this issue and came to the solution that it should be cut in half.”

The pay-to-participate fees were established in 2009 when the board approved a ballot initiative for a 7.4-mill continuous operating levy. As an assurance to use tax dollars wisely, the board said a pay-to-participate fee schedule would be created to offset some of the operational costs incurred through athletic and extracurricular programs.

Initially, the pay-to-participate fee schedule was set as followed: families with children who participated in middle school and high school athletics would pay $75 and $150 per sport, per student, respectively, and families whose children participated in the high school marching band and clubs would pay $100 per year and $10 per club, respectively. The family pay-to-participate cap was set at $500.

During the 2020-2021 school year, those fees were reduced by 50 percent due to lost competitive opportunities caused by the introduction of the novel coronavirus and the financial impact that was felt by most families due to the introduction of the coronavirus.

As most families are still feeling the financial impact caused by the pandemic, the board has agreed to keep the 50 percent pay-to-participate fee reduction in place three times.

Their decision to further reduce those prices means the board will have reduced the pay-to-participate fees by 75 percent since the start of the pandemic.

Under the newly modified pay-to-participate fee schedule, families with children who participate in athletics at the middle school and high school level will pay $18.75 and $37.50 per sport, per student, respectively, and families whose children participate in the high school marching band and clubs would pay $25 per year and $2.50 per club, respectively. The family pay-to-participate cap is set at $125.

Board member Cathy Johnson said that families who are struggling to pay the fees can seek scholarships from Success Beyond the Classroom for additional financial assistance. Families are encouraged to contact their schools for more information on scholarship opportunities.

The board of education also agreed to keep in place the student fee schedule for the 2023-2024 school year. These fees were also reduced at the start of the pandemic.

Under the reduced student fee schedule, the instructional fee will be set at $10 rather than the typical $20. Other fee reductions for courses include the arts, the sciences, and several career technical elective programs. Art courses offering one credit lab courses will be $17.50 plus the cost of personal items and projects; half-credit courses are set at $10 plus the cost of personal items and projects; and science fees are set at $5. Students who are taking family and consumer science courses, such as principles of food , culinary fundamentals, global foods, textiles and interior design, and textiles and construction and maintenance will be charged $10.

Students who are seeking courses or actively enrolled in the career-technical program will be sent literature listing lab fees and uniform expenses.

High school students looking to reserve a space in their school’s parking lot will be assessed a fee of $25. That fee will be waived, however, if a parking pass was purchased at Columbus State Community College for on-campus courses. Students must show proof of the existence of their current pass in order to have the parking fee waived.

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