STOW, Ohio - Many school districts across northeast Ohio are instituting pay-to-play fees, considering starting such a policy or increasing fees to help cover costs.
Many of the fees range from $75-$400 per sport.
For school boards, it's usually a tough and unpopular decision to ask parents for money in order for their kids to play sports or get involved in an activity at a public school.
For example, here's the breakdown of costs to play a sport at Riverside Local Schools in Painesville:
Football (9-12) - $855
Football (7-8) - $416
Cross Country (Var/JV) - $493
Soccer (Var/JV) - $411
Volleyball (9 -12) - $718
Volleyball (7-8) - $420
Cheerleaders (8-12) - $268 per season
Golf (Var/JV) - $751
Catherine Bulgrin, treasurer of Stow-Munroe Falls Schools, said their district started a pay-to-play policy four years ago at a cost of $75 for high school athletes.
Since then, the cost has doubled to $150 for sports and $100 for clubs. A student who plays three sports would have to pay $450 over the school year.
Bulgrin said the money generated from the fees offsets costs by raising about $200,000 a year for the district.
She said the fees are a necessary evil to prevent cuts to sports and clubs.
"We feel that being able to offer athletics, clubs and activities after the school day is very important to the success of developing our children," Bulgrin said.
In Barberton, the school board recently voted to start a pay-to-play policy this school year after voters rejected a property tax levy earlier this month.
High school athletes will have to shell out $125 for sports and other activities.
"It's going to be difficult moving forward, but we're going to keep moving forward," said Barberton Schools Superintendent Patti Cleary.
The Akron Public School District does not charge students for sports, but if a November levy fails, the district may consider pay-to-play.
Superintendent David James said he's even considering the drastic measure of doing away with sports if a levy can't be passed.
James said he's not sure if it's fair to ask kids from lower income families to pay for sports.
Medina City Schools used to charge students $660 per sport, but facing mounting criticism and a growing number of students dropping out of sports, the district slashed fees in half, $330 per sport, in 2010.
At the time, Superintendent Randy Stepp said, "Our need to be cost effective took priority over our need to provide students with reasonable access to extracurricular opportunities. As a result, the district implemented a pay-to-participate fee that helped the district financially, but hurt students by making it difficult and burdensome for many to participate in a number of activities. We strive to be fiscally responsible and feel that we are with this new fee schedule."
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