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Parents react to increased $200 pay to participate fee

Parents at a football game.

Isabel Pena

Parents at a football game.

Rachael Kluba, Staff Reporter

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In continuing fallout from a failed operating fund referendum in 2011, RB’s pay to participate fee has hit a new high this school year. Where last year a student athlete would have paid $75 to participate on a sport, this year the fee has jumped to $200 per sport. In addition, certain clubs now come with a participation fee, either $75 or $100 depending on the nature of the activity.

RB parent Kathie Kunish said, “It was inevitable. Other schools will follow suit and have higher fees than us.”

As fees begin to mount up, parents must decide whether or not to pay for their child to participate. Kunish, whose son plays golf, decided to save the dollars and not have her son participate.

“Freshmen don’t play much at all,” she said, citing why paying the fee was not worth it in her son’s case.

Parent Kim Michael thought the new cost was not the worst thing the school could have done. “I wouldn’t change the fees for the school, but maybe for other things,” she said.

One parent was even grateful that the school board decided to raise fees. Sarah Bernstein, mother of water polo player Rachel Pavlakovic, preferred that the school raise fees rather than cutting her daughter’s sport.

Even with the increased fee, some athletes will still need to fundraise for their teams. Michaels, Kunish, and Bernstein all said they would still help their children fundraise.  Michaels noted, however, that the school needs to be creative about fundraising.

“[The school] needs to come up with new fundraising, instead of every sport selling the same [discount] cards at a high price,” she said.

Whether it was avoidable or not, hundreds of dollars in new fees for student athletics may prove to be a challenge in 2012-213.  It still remains to be seen whether or not the increased fees lead to decreased enrollment on athletic teams and whether the fee itself will be large enough to help cover costs.

7 Comments

7 Responses to “Parents react to increased $200 pay to participate fee”

  1. Cheryl Milan on September 10th, 2012 12:06 pm

    I am in full support of Pay to Participate and will gladly pay for my son and daughter to participate in extra cirricular sports and activities at RB, all while getting a fantastic, high quality education!

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  2. Jerry Buttimer on September 10th, 2012 4:45 pm

    As the community gains more experience in this area I wonder if more than one rate might provide better balance. Some sports are very expensive from an equipment perspective and others have a relatively high or low cost of supervision or infrastructure and insurance such as gymnastics.

    While we don’t have hockey, it’s a prime example of high cost- equipment, ice time and supervision (officials and coaches) while cross country has many athletes, few coaches and no equipment (they don’t even use a ball). In fact some use XC as a fall conditioner for other sports like wrestling or just to work out with others. I’m not trying to negotiate a deal for runners and swimmers are in a similar situation especially if you ignore capital cost.

    It might be interesting to look at cost per student/athlete and discuss best alternatives for a balance that keeps many students active.

    I hope the coaches and staff are trying to figured out a way to identify and help avoid loosing the kids that may be struggling to meet this additional burden. It could be ideal for a grant from the RBEF, Boosters or others.

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  3. Rose on September 11th, 2012 8:24 am

    Although I would prefer extra curricular activities and sports not be cut, $125 dollar increase is way too much. I hope that it doesn’t come down to students not participating in sports etc. from not being able to pay rather than a total lack of interest.

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  4. Lisa Aulerich-Marciniak on September 12th, 2012 5:11 pm

    These pay to participate fees are a lousy way to try to fund programs at a public school. Although fees seem high for families, they do not begin to cover the expenses of the athletic department. The athletic budget is around $800,000 for the current school year. According to the budget approved by the school board at last night’s meeting, the anticipated fees raised by the pay to participate policy will not even cover the administrative costs. Taxpayers are still footing the bill for the vast majority of the programming. This means that a family living in the district and paying their property taxes is already paying for these sports. If they feel they cannot afford the extra $200 fee and opt to have their student not participate, they are, in reality, subsidising the athletic activities of wealthier families who can afford the fee.

    When activities are supported by the entire public it is wrong to create situations where the only thing keeping a child from participating is his or her economic status. This is why we waive fees for families who are considered low income. However, the income level one must be under to qualify is so low that it is likely there will be a great many families who do not qualify yet will not be able to afford these fees, or may have to choose to play one sport instead of two or three.

    I supported the referendum because I believe that athletics and other after school opportunities help kids succeed during the school day and give them skills other than those they learn in the classroom that will help them succeed in life. However, if we can’t fully support these programs for all of our children, then we must decide what is most important to offer, and concentrate on doing those things well. In my opinion, those things are classes. If we can’t offer athletics to everyone who wants them, then maybe that $800,000 would be better put to use getting our class sizes back down by hiring more teachers. After all, there are plenty of opportunities in the Chicago area for parents who can afford it to allow their children to play club sports.

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  5. Jerry Buttimer on September 13th, 2012 11:23 am

    Now might be the time for groups such as RBEF, Boosters, or even individual teams raising funds to step up and make sure no student/athlete falls through the financial crack. Without a lot of money in the district there are no easy solutions so let’s help teammates.

    Eliminating extracurricular, including sports, while the country is in an obesity epidemic would be foolish. It’s time for creative solutions and working together.

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    Lisa Aulerich-Marciniak Reply:

    We’re worried about obesity, and yet we fundraise by selling candy, cheesecake, cookie dough, and restaurant discount cards….

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  6. tony on September 27th, 2012 9:44 am

    the money dosent go to the kids ! or the SPORT ! nothing like having our student atheletes bear the burden of mismanaged budgets. taking kids out of sports ? preventing kids from multiple seasons? collecting money under false pretence.

    sports keep our kids off the streets.its hard enough for these kids to play and pull good grades.

    TAKING MONEY FROM ATHELETES OR CANDY FROM BABIES????? you decide

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Parents react to increased $200 pay to participate fee