High pay to participate fees will only discourage participation

Carol Moon, mother of two water polo players, speaks to the board about the importance of keeping water polo.

Carol Moon, mother of two water polo players, speaks to the board about the importance of keeping water polo.

Rebecca Rusiecki, Staff Reporter

On April 10th, the RB school board voted 6 to 1 to increase the athletic pay to participate fee from $75 to $200 per sport, instead of eliminating four sports (boys volleyball, girls golf, and boys and girls water polo). While this fee increase is estimated to raise over $100,000 for the school, it comes at a heavy cost to families struggling financially. It is evident that RB needs to find reasonable ways to solve their budget problems, but I don’t believe imposing even higher fees on students is the correct way to accomplish this.

In the past, one of the things I admired most about RB was the fact that it was so easy to get involved. The fact that there were no fees for clubs and sports made it a great opportunity to try new things. Extracurriculars and athletics have always been such a focal point at RB, and charging hundreds of dollars to participate really takes away from the character and mission of the school. I think this increase in pay to participate fees will take away many opportunities for students, especially incoming freshmen and those who are just starting to learn a sport.

As it stands this year, students on the free or reduced lunch program will get fees waived for participation in athletics.  However, what this plan doesn’t take into account is that, even though a family might not be receiving aid from the school through free or reduced lunches, they still might be facing financial trouble. I feel that these new fees with not only sports, but also certain clubs, will put unnecessary pressure on students and discourage participation in extracurricular activities.

Moreover, this plan cuts the athletic supply budget by 30%, meaning we will be paying more money for sports with equipment of lesser quality. I think that because of this, the predicted amount of revenue the school plans to gain from this is overestimated, as many students will probably forgo participation in athletics, or will simply not be able to afford it.

A good question is also posed when considering whether or not the school board made the right decision in saving the four sports originally thought to be cut.  Of course, we can be glad that students in the four sports on the cut list will still have the opportunity to participate in RB athletic programs, but this does come at a high cost to the entire student body. Many students feel that it is unfair to make every athlete share the cost of these four sports, and it’s easy to see why they feel this way. In many senses, I agree with them. However, I know we would all feel differently if it was a sport we participated on that faced being eliminated.

In addition, this new plan still leaves the current budget with over $400,000 in deficit. RB needs to do more to solve its budget problems, but imposing more fees on students is not the best way to do this. We need something more sustainable that will work to solve problems in the long run, and though this will be difficult to find, it must be accomplished if we want to have equal opportunities for all students, despite their economic backgrounds.