As the National Federation of State High School Associations this week reported the first decline in participation in high school sports in 30 years, two small towns in Southern Oregon hope to increase participation by dropping fees for sports and other extracurricular programs.
According to the Mail Tribune, the Phoenix-Talent school board voted unanimously to eliminate the fees.
“We collected $35,000 (in fees) last year. We feel that’s an amount as a district we can afford,” said Dave Ehrhardt, athletic director and a vice principal at Phoenix High School. “We hope it takes down any potential barrier to participating. It’s difficult with all the other things that families face.”
The change covers all sports at the high school and Talent Middle School. It also eliminates fees for activities such as band, choir, drama and Future Farmers of America.
“We just know that it’s a burden at the beginning of the year paying the fees and some of the other supply fees that are mandatory. That is a pretty big anxiety for some families,” said Brent Barry, district superintendent. “I hope to get more students participating in extracurricular or co-curricular activities. We know that leads to higher achievement.”
Fees had previously been capped at $200 per year, per family. Reduced fees were available for those who couldn’t afford the entire expense.
A district press release on the matter claimed that Phoenix-Talent is the only district in Southern Oregon to eliminate fees entirely.