The effects of CW Schools’ pay-to-play

By Linda Dillman
Staff Writer

With state funding cuts and other revenue reductions, if a student wants to participate in school sports these days, they have to pay up.

At Canal Winchester Local Schools, the cost for the first two activities is $300 each. The fee for a third sport is waived. However, if a family has multiple children on teams such as football, basketball, marching band, wrestling, cheerleading, tennis and cross country, there is no maximum cap and no payment plan to spread out the charges.

If a child decides a sport is not for them and quits the team, there is no refund. The fee does not guarantee playing time or control over any team/activity conditions. If a child is injured or ill, a pro-rated refund is granted if a doctor determines the student is physically unfit to continue participating.

“The (fee) policy was started in the mid-1990’s to offset the cost of extracurricular activities for the board of education,” said Canal Winchester Student Activities Coordinator Kent Riggs. “The fee has increased over the years to meet the need of more revenue. In 2011-12 school year fee was increased from $150 to $300. Fees cover the coaches’ supplemental salaries and the cost of transportation to events.”

The year before pay-to-participate fees were instituted in 2010-11, 615 high schoolers were involved in extracurricular activities. The number dropped to 575 the following year and fell to 504 in 2011-12 when the fee doubled to $300. In 2013-14, there were 534 high school participants and nearly three dozen athletes playing a third sport at a loss of $9,600 in fee revenue to the district.

“With the 32 athletes who played the third sport last year, no new team was established or more travel created that resulted in the extra cost to be absorbed,” said Riggs. “All monies that paid coaches supplemental and team transportation came from the general fund dollars.”

According to Treasurer Joyce Boyer, fee revenue does not cover the entire cost of programming. The district makes up the difference for Riggs’ job, an athletic secretary and facility manager from the general fund.

More than $253,000 in pay-to-participate fees were collected by Canal Winchester Schools during the 2013-14 school year. There is no provision for waiving or reducing fees for students on the free/reduced lunch program.

The general fund budget for student activities is $455,003 to $280,635 in coach salary and fringe benefit cost estimates, $174,368 for the student activity coordinator and his secretary’s salary and fringe benefit costs, plus office operation costs.

“The estimated cost for trips is $41,922 for the 2013-14 school year, including bus driver’s salary and fringe benefit costs only,” said Boyer. “Salaries of the coordinator of student activities, the athletic secretary, faculty managers, coaches’ salaries and transportation are what make up the budget for the department coming from the general fund. The dollars that pay for all other aspects of athletics come from the athletic department in the form of gate receipts, Pepsi/vending contracts, facility advertising and athletic booster donations.”

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