By Chris Chaney
The West Clermont Local School District will make playing sports a lot more affordable beginning with the 2014-15 school year as the school board unanimously approved a recommendation by Superintendent Keith Kline to cut the pay-to-play fee from $495 to $250.
Additionally, the school board put a cap on pay-to-play fees at $500, meaning if a student-athlete were to play school-associated sports in each of the three seasons, they would not have to pay a fee each time out.
The move to cutting the fee came in response to declining enrollment numbers that stem in some form from students’ desire to play sports that are financially unable to do so. As a result, the district has seen families and students leave their schools in order to stake out greener pastures.
The lowered fee will result in more money coming out of the district’s general fund; roughly $200,000 according to Treasurer Alana Cropper. However, give the lowered fee, participation would likely increase, effectively lowering the amount of money that would have to come from the general fund.
Coaches around Clermont County have lamented the pay for play fees in the past, saying that their participation numbers have dropped as a result of the exorbitant amount of money that families need to shell out for a few months of athletics.
Furthermore, families with multiple children wishing to participate in school-sanctioned athletics were paying upwards of thousands of dollars each year.
The fee, which is 50.5 percent cheaper, will likely not only help the athletic programs of the West Clermont schools, but also keep students and their families from leaving the district due to the fees required to play sports.
The decision comes on the heels of decisions by the board to reinstate art, kindergarten and physical education classes next school year.
The ability of the board to cut the pay-to-play fee was based on a five-year financial forecast that anticipated roughly a $4 million surplus over the next three years. Previously, a $20 million deficit over that three-year period was expected, but several factors contributed to the financial turnaround, according to Sup. Kline.
Fall sports next season, including football, soccer, volleyball, cross country and tennis, will be the first to enjoy the reduced fee.