Should Student Athletes Pay to Play in Plainfield?
Plainfield School District 202 considers what to do about students who don't pay athletic or club fees; one option could mean students will be forced to withdraw from their sport.
The Plainfield School District 202 school board and administration are considering options when it comes to student athletes who do not pay for the sport they play.
This year, the district issued $350,000 in fees for high school students who participate in athletics or clubs, and nearly half, or $172,000, of those fees still have not been paid, said Angela Smith, the district’s assistant superintendent for business and operations.
For the district’s four football teams alone, $40,000 out of $87,000 in fees issued has not been collected, Smith said.
Supt. John Harper said those families who have not demonstrated any financial hardship, who do not qualify for waivers or who have not asked for a payment plan option are slighting the district.
“It’s sending the wrong message to families who are paying the fees,” Harper said, adding that the district is financially struggling right now and funds are used to pay for coaches, equipment and more.
Fee waivers are granted for low-income families whose students qualify for a free lunch. Students who qualify for the reduced lunch plan receive a half-fee waiver, and hardship waivers for those who do not qualify based on income are reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
Students whose families ignore the activity or sports fee, or make no attempt to set up a payment plan, may be forced to withdraw from the sport in the future.
School board members made no decision at their meeting Monday night, but said they need to work out a plan that doesn’t punish students or their team.
“In no way are we looking to penalize children whose families are eligible for free and reduced lunch or who will work out a payment plan,” Harper said.
Harper said making athletes “pay to play” seems reasonable.
Board members discussed how to collect these fees when approving the proposed fee schedule for the 2013-14 school year.
While most fees will stay the same as the 2012-13 school year, a few fees are going to rise. The fee for second, third and fifth grade will increase $3 because it now includes a planner, while fourth grade’s fee rises $7 for the cost of the planner and a musical recorder.
The cost of driver’s education for district students rises from $200 to $250 for the 2013-14 school year because of reduced state funding. The cost increase for drivers’ education does not affect students who are enrolled this upcoming summer, officials said.
All fees must be paid for middle school students to participate in graduation, and all fees have to be paid for high school students to buy a parking permit, schedule behind the wheel drivers’ education time, buy prom tickets or walk in graduation ceremonies, officials said.