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Dexter School Board Considers $350 Flat Fee to Play Sports

Students at Dexter High School and Mill Creek Middle School could pay a flat fee for clubs and athletics beginning in the fall.

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.

MGOBLUE June 21, 2012 at 12:43 AM
Not to be a downer, but it's possible that enough kids will choose NOT to participate that you neither make the money you need nor have more kids involved in athletics. I can see that the district can use the extra money, but I also think that participation could take a dive. It will be interesting to see how this plan plays out next year. Didn't we just fork out $500,000 for new turf? Where did that money come from?
Barbara Read June 21, 2012 at 03:52 AM
You can watch the highlights of the board meeting online at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wAS9U54JzkQ. The discussion about pay to participate fees starts at 37:25.
Julie Norwood June 21, 2012 at 01:15 PM
Won't cost increase if you have if you allow a flat fee where the student is then allowed to participate in multiple sports. There will be more students in a sport so you will need more coaches or the coaches will want to be paid more because they have more students. (Plus the various other cost i.e. uniforms, busing...) I as a parent would want to get the most for my money and would encourage my child to participate in as many sports as possible. If it is necessary to increase the cost of sport participation it should just be an across the board per sport fee. However in an ideal world I would prefer to switch high school sports to club sports run by a private sector group. They would be able to do this more cost effectively than a government run institution. While I know sports offer a great benefit to a students growth, still the main focus of school should be on an academic education. I want all of my tax dollars focusing on that rather than sports which students could participate in through clubs.
Julie Norwood June 21, 2012 at 01:29 PM
If you are going to allow a flat fee and allow students to participate in more then one sport. Why not have a family flat fee. The family flat fee would allow a family to then have one student from that family in a sport per season. So for example if a family has two kids but one of them plays football in the fall and the other child runs track in the spring this family would only have to pay the family fee. It is the same concept that you are proposing for an individual. However I guess this won't satisfy the school system if the goal is to make money. The way the fee system is currently proposed penalizes my example family while benefiting the one child family who plays sports in every season.
K Bates June 21, 2012 at 01:49 PM
One fee is NOT the answer. This is not a grocery store where we "buy one, get one free." Since when is making the majority pay for the benefit of a few acceptable? The mindset of punish the whole for the gain of a few is apparent in the thought process here. In this economy, did ANYONE on this board think that tripling the cost was acceptable??? Really??? So, the maintenace of the turf field was not thought about when it was all "gung ho" for the installation of it?? Please tell me how many of the District Athletes utilize this field???? That percentange is not so great, is it?? Let us not forget about the dedicated coaches that took a forced pay cut.......

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