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Cassopolis athletes to pay $100 next season

Published 5:14pm Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Athletes for Cassopolis Public Schools will be asked to pay $100 to play sports next season.

During the regular meeting of the Cassopolis Public Schools’ Board of Education Monday evening, board members voted 6-1 in favor of athletes paying the one-time annual fee. Treasurer George Calvert voted “no,” explaining that he wanted to be sure the fee wouldn’t rise for students and that, if at all possible, the cost may be adjusted to a lower figure.

Athletes interested in playing any school team sports will be required to pay the $100 to participate during the 2012-2013 academic year.

After a string of special meetings throughout the past weeks, several options were presented to the board for cutting next year’s budget, among those being that athletes pay a fee to play sports.

“This fee is for one year and for multiple sports,” Calvert clarified during the meeting.

According to Tricia Gaideski, director of finance, the $100 will increase revenue for the district’s budget, which is in a tight deficit, as well as cut back on the athletic budget.

“Having pay-to-play offsets the athletic budget and keeps us from having to cut entire sports that are offered,” Gaideski said. “I had several parents say during athletic committee meetings that they would rather pay for their children to play a sport than not have the sport at all.”

Vicki Morgan, Cassopolis resident and parent to a son who plays two sports at Ross Beatty, said that families with one student may be able to come up with the $100 fee. But for families with multiple students in the same school, Morgan said the pay-to-play decision is wrong.

“What about those families with three or four children who play sports at the school,” Morgan said in an interview Wednesday. “Those low-income families will have to come up with $300 or $400 dollars for their kids to play sports, on top of buying school clothes and supplies. It’s just wrong.”

Board President Christine Locke clarified during the meeting that the fee must be paid before student athletes step onto the practice field.

“For fall sports, that falls around the first week in August,” Locke said.

Morgan said that the time limit will also create an issue.

“My sister has two kids in the district who play sports, so now she’ll have to pay $200 before they can even play,” Morgan said. “We’re concerned about those students who can’t afford it. They get reduced or free lunch but they have to pay for sports?”

Gaideski explained that now that the decision has been voted on, the district will begin looking to fundraising and booster options that students can use to help raise their participation fee.

“There’s various scholarship opportunities that students may be able to take advantage of and the board is hoping to implement some kind of booster program,” Gaideski said.

Other options being considered include signage around athletic fields, which will continue to trim the athletic budget.

According to Gaideski, the issue will be revisited next year when budget preparations are discussed again. Currently, several other factors are being discussed toward cutting the school district’s budget for the next school year. The district must submit its budget to the state by June 30.

The next regular meeting of the Board of Education is scheduled for 7 p.m. June 25 at Ross Beatty Junior/Senior High School.

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