Pay-to-play policy investigated

THURSDAY, SEPT. 27, 2012

Central Valley School Board looks into sports funding

At a board meeting in August, Central Valley school board chair Debra Long questioned whether the district should continue to charge students participation fees for all of its Washington Interscholastic Activity Association-sanctioned sports.

The fees were put into place at the middle school level for the 2009-’10 school year. Students must pay $25 for each sport.

At the high school level, $60 fees were enacted to help offset cuts in state funding in June 2010.

In August, Long said she wanted to eliminate the fees when board members learned there would be no cuts to the district’s budget this year.

While the board voted to keep the fees, with Long voting against them and board member MJ Bolt abstaining, they decided it was time to look at how the fees are impacting sports.

At Monday’s meeting, Kent Martin, executive director of secondary learning and teaching, presented the board the participation numbers. Districtwide, at the high school level, participation is down 0.63 percent, or 12 students.

At the middle-school level, participation is up 5.88 percent, or 155 students.

Martin said the middle schools are no longer competing against other school districts. One of the positive aspects of this is that everyone gets to participate in the end of season tournament, not just the students who win in meets during the season.

“The middle school principals like this,” Martin said. He said principals feel the emphasis on sports is less about winning and more about participating.

At the high school level, there were two activities eliminated when participation fees were implemented: a dance class and C squad boys’ soccer. Martin said there’d been no outcry over the dance class’s demise. He said the C squad games were becoming harder and harder to schedule since not many nearby districts have that level anymore. Teams often had to schedule games in the Tri-Cities.

Board member Tom Dingus asked how sports were funded. He said he knew there was a uniform fee, an ASB fee and often families were asked to do some fundraising activities, too. He said he is curious to see the whole picture of how activities are funded.

Superintendent Ben Small said that while sports are mainly funded by voter-approved levies, there are other avenues for funding. He also said gate receipts didn’t go to the district, but to the ASB fund and the Greater Spokane League.

Bolt noted activities used to receive some of the profits from vending machines in the schools, but with the push for healthier snacks, they weren’t getting as much as they used to.

The board asked to see an overview of how the activities are funded and hope to see those numbers at an upcoming meeting.

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