By Matt Ulmer –
Hempfield School District has set into action a pay-to-play system in which students will owe a fee to play sports and participate in extra-curricular activities. Another local school district, Lampeter-Strasburg, is considering the same.
This idea to increase revenue does not fly well with many here at Penn Manor.
Parents with kids in elementary schools playing youth baseball, rec basketball, or rec soccer expect to owe money for their son/daughters participation when they are on club teams, but the students on school teams at the middle and high school have always assumed a fee to play was non-existent.
Well, now all that has changed if you’re a Black Knight.
Not only will students have to pay to use district facilities during the week, they must submit $35 per high school activity and $20 per middle school activity.
The only bright side seems to be the $200 cap for families with multiple kids, and the exclusion of requiring fees from those in the free or reduced lunch program.
This system applies to many clubs, such as chess and jazz club, but excludes yearbook, newspaper, and student council clubs.
Perhaps the biggest change is the cost to use the district facilities. Teams must pay $15-20 per hour for use of the gymnasium and $10 to nearly $20 for the use of fields.
Hempfield School Board vice president Diane Gerlach explained, “We are just trying to recoup our costs.”
Lampeter-Strasburg’s school board voted 6-2 in favor of a similar system. Specific fees on different sports and activities have yet to be determined, but it’s clear they are ready to activate the plan in the 2011-2012 year.
This trend has Penn Manor students questioning their school district’s mindset on the idea.
“I’d probably still play because it’s my sport, but it will take away from underprivileged kids,” said Penn Manor senior and soccer player Julia Rios.
“I would still play my main sport,” said senior basketball player Dan Elliot.
Would students here have to give up a secondary sport? Would they be forced to pick and choose at the school’s expense?
Junior basketball player David Burch said, “I’m not playing sports if I have to pay.”
Penn Manor Athletic Director Jeff Roth knows that tight budgets are changing the way districts operate their sports programs.
“I have a lot of concerns and want to encourage kids to play and not [worry about] the financial constraints,” said Roth.
At least in Penn Manor, athletics will be relatively “free,” Jeff Roth reassured.
“Next year no pay to play,” he said.
That’s good news for now, but who knows what the future holds.