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The State Journal- Register (Springfield, IL)
Jason Nevel Staff Writer

Springfield school officials are considering charging a higher flat fee for high school athletics rather than separate fees for students who play one sport or multiple sports.

The district currently charges $75 to play one sport and $100 to play multiple sports. The new policy - which could be voted on in mid-June - would be a flat fee of $85 regardless of how many sports a student plays.

Low-income students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch are exempt from paying the fee and wouldn't be affected by the change.

Rick Sanders, director of school support, said the current method can be complicated for high school secretaries and coaches in charge of collecting the fees.

In some cases, students pay the $100 fee and decide not to play another sport, or pay $75 and then try to play a second sport, Sanders said.

Someone in the athletic department has to determine who has paid how much and approach the student about the discrepancy, he said.

"It's just simpler to pay one fee and we're done," Sanders said.

District 186 started charging athletic fees in 2003 as a way to supplement the athletic budget, which totals about $725,000, he said.

Students who play sports like basketball and football pay the fee, as do students in Scholastic Bowl, speech team and cheerleading.

Athletic fees make up only 4 percent of the athletic budget. Eighty-two percent comes from taxpayers and 14 percent from admission prices to sporting events.

"We're not self-sufficient by any means, but it helps," Sanders said.

The change could also mean a slight bump in revenue for the district.

Sanders said staff reviewed athletic fee collections the past three years and found a switch to a flat fee would raise an additional $1,300 per year.

School Board President Mike Zimmers said Wednesday he's supportive of the idea, which was tabled earlier this month to give board members more time to check with constituents.

Zimmers said the proposal wouldn't affect a large percentage of students and would be consistent with the middle schools, where students pay a flat fee of $60.

"I think the flat fee just makes sense," he said. "It's less complicated for parents and easier for bookkeeping at the schools."

Contact Jason Nevel: jason.nevel@sj-r.com, 788-1521, twitter.com/JasonNevelSJR.

 

May 23, 2014

 

 
 

 

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