The cost of participating in athletics at Saline High School has jumped from $125 to $325 in just a few years. It's only slightly lower at the middle school.
Participation remains high, although some parents are taking advantage of payment plan options. Have parents reached their breaking point? Should the district raise fees even more if it means it will have more money to reduce class size?
And what should the district do about the uneven playing field when it comes to playing sports? If you're playing the traditional sports, you can play three sports for $325. But if you're playing the "club sports," like field hockey and lacrosse, you're paying quite a bit more.
There are four candidates running for two open six-year terms on the boards. Smita Nagpal, Diane Friese, Karen Delhey and Paul Hynek will appear on the Nov. 6 ballot. The candidates have paired off to run as teams, with Nagpal and Friese running as one team and Delhey and Hynek running as the other. Voters, however, are free to choose any two they wish.
See the candidates side-to-side when the Saline High School student group Students Reinvesting In a Valuable Education (STRIVE) hosts a candidates forum at 6:30 p.m., Oct. 25 at Saline Middle School.
Here is today's question:
Sports participation fees have nearly tripled over the last five years without hampering participation. What’s your view on spending district money to fund school sports? And some sports but not others?
A simple answer is to ask any parent who has a student in a club or travel sport and they will tell you that the pay to participate fee is cheaper and offers a little more benefit, especially when their student athlete may play one club sport and/or school sports also. I think we need to look at the club sport model and the school funding of sports and perhaps come up with a new blended “district” sports model that encompasses the best of both worlds, from both a cost and participation perspective. Although, there are many positive outcomes from athletic participation – it is still an extra-curricular activity. Then the discussion would lead to how much funding would be lost if the district did not fund/or did not offer athletics at all and students left the district. The discussion also has to include other clubs and activities and how those are funded as well as athletics.
I believe that sports play an important role in the overall well-being of a child as well as their ability to learn. Over the past 5 years our community has shown strong support for these programs, as seen by no change in participation rates, even with significant increases in Pay to Play fees. School sports are a highly valued tradition and a point of pride for the Saline Community. The high quality of some sports teams in Saline no doubt draw many to our school district. For all of these reasons, I do believe the district’s money is well spent in supporting school sports. Club sports have also grown and while I recognize the benefits of all sports, public education funds can only stretch so far, and decisions must be made as to which sport “qualifies” for district funding. To be fair, public funding that is available must be spread over other avenues for student growth as well, such as music, theatre, debate, civic involvement, and the arts.
Pay for play does not cover the entire cost of sports or extra curricular activities. Due to diminishing state revenues, more financial support has been asked of the stake holders( those who participate). Interest in newly adopted or club teams has grown rapidly. While we recognize the benefit of such activities, public education just does not have the funds to support them all.
While I see sports programs as a critical component to the overall success of the school district, I also believe that they are not a part of the core curriculum and therefore should not be completely funded by the district. As a parent of two boys who play sports I understand the concern about the expense, however I have also seen travel sports costing 4 times that amount for a single sport. The $250,000 in revenue brought into the district would be hard to replace if the pay to play was taken away. I think the program should be looked at to make sure it is equitable and to find ways to offer more scholarships so that those who may not have the means can still participate.
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