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News & Record (Greensboro, North Carolina)
GREENSBORO - With the official start of fall sports practice less than a month away, Guilford County Schools families have been told they will have to come up with a $45 participation fee or seek a waiver based on economic hardship for their children to compete in athletics.
GCS delivered a recorded message from athletics director Leigh Hebbard to households June 28 informing them of the district-wide requirement. The fee is a requirement for each middle school or high school student who intends to participate in one or more sports during the 2017-18 school year. The fee is the same $45 regardless of the number of sports in which the student participates.
The so-called "pay-to-play" initiative was first proposed in April by GCS Superintendent Sharon Contreras as part of the budget that was recently approved by Guilford County Commissioners.
The fee is projected to raise $400,000 during the school year toward a proposed district operating budget of $637 million, or about 0.0006 percent.
Waiver opportunities, based primarily on whether a student is eligible for free or reduced lunch, will be available, Hebbard said in the voice message. Practice for fall sports officially begins July 31, but athletes have until the first contest in their sport to pay the fee or be approved for a waiver. No students who have not paid the fee or been granted a waiver will be allowed to compete.
Students enrolled in a middle college, early college or at other schools without an athletics program will need to pay the fee at the school where they compete. Families will be able to pay the fee in person with cash, check or money order or pay online "no earlier than July 28," Hebbard said, using the K12 Payment Center.
"Additional information and required forms will be available on our website (www.gcsnc.com) and at each school" by Monday, Hebbard said.
For more information, families can contact the athletics director at their school(s) or call 336-370-8950.
Contact Joe Sirera at 336-373-7034, and follow @JoeSireraNR on Twitter.
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