The Dexter Community Schools Board of Education is considering a proposed pay to play policy for students participating in sports and extracurricular clubs beginning in the fall.
According to the policy, beginning in the 2012-2013 school year, students at would pay a $350 flat fee for athletics, of which $50 would be set aside for extracurricular club fees; and students at would pay $150, with a $25 club fee.
"Pay to Participate is a piece of the solution for the budget challenges we face," Sean Burton, executive director of support services said. "The district has been researching various models of Pay to Participate. We have spoken with several schools both in and out of Washtenaw County and the Southeast Conference of Schools. One thing that we have learned is that no two schools do things exactly the same. Each school utilizes a unique solution to meet their individual needs."
Currently the district's fees are $100 per sport, per high schooler and $60 per sport, per middle schooler. Burton said switching to a flat fee would allow students to participate in multiple sports throughout the year. Based on a study of coaching fees, facility and equipment maintenance, and other expenses, however, Burton said the actual cost per high school student for athletics was approximately $550 per participant. The cost per middle school student was approximately $350.
"Funds generated from Pay to Participate will be used to assist in offsetting our basic costs of coaches' salaries, administration of the Athletic Department and other expenses," Burton said. "We also utilize the funds to make field improvements, increase the number of varsity sports, and provide for maintenance of the new turf field and improve the experiences of our student athletes."
Parent Barbara Read expressed disappointment with the board's decision to adopt the new fee schedule.
"In the two years I have been attending meetings, I have seen the board try to make decisions based on a sound philosophy and what is best for the students, not the nuts and bolts of making money," she said. "The goal should be to make athletics more accessible."
Read said tripling the fee to participate in athletics could be a major deterrent for several students.
"And the added value of 'playing as many sports as you like' would apply to only about 20 percent of students, so it is more of a perceived value than something of actual worth," she said.
According to Burton, currently 72 percent of student athletes play one sport, 26 percent participate in two sports, and 2 percent participate in three or more sports. During the 2011-2012 school year, there were 572 high school students who participated in sports and 346 middle school students. If participation remains the same for the 2012-2013 school year, the new fees would generate $51,900 from middle school sports revenue and $200,200 at the high school.
"I would like to see a family cap, if not the current $300, even a cap of $750 would save a family with one middle school student and two in high school $100, while still supplying a significant increase in fees to the school," Read said.
She said another option would be to give a $50 rebate for each additional child, after paying the full fee for one child.
"We have friends with three kids at DHS who would now be paying $1,050 for sports. Offering family rebates would not make a huge difference to the athletics program, but it would significantly ease the burden for families with multiple students interested in after-school sports," Read said.
The board will vote on the proposed policy at a later meeting.