Pottsville Area school board officials postponed a vote implementing a pay-to-play policy for sports and extra-curricular activities.
The proposal, if it passes, would have each high school (grades 9-12) and junior high school (grades 7-8) student participating in sports or other extra-curricular activities pay an annual fee to join.
Pay-to-Play Plan at Pottsville Put Off Another Month
Implementing pay-to-play is being considered as Pottsville Area School District looks to avoid cutting numerous sports and extra-curricular programs. The cost-cutting is necessary due to poor financial management over the last 15 years or so. Not keeping a tab on finances as they should, the district blew through a more than $16 million budget surplus in less than a decade.
Now, the school is barely breaking even and the Pennsylvania Dept. of Education is threatening to come in and take over if Pottsville can’t get its house in order in a hurry.
At its June 2020 board meeting, Pottsville Area School District voted in favor of cutting more than a handful of teachers and staff as well as raising property taxes.
An earlier plan to get the district out of the red for next school term also called for cutting several sports. However, an agreement between Saint Clair Area School District and Pottsville helped save most of those programs for at least a year.
Part of that agreement with Saint Clair Area does call for looking at alternatives to the bail out the tiny school provides for 2020-2021. And one of those alternatives is a pay-to-play system. Other options include corporate sponsors for sports at Pottsville, charitable donations, and increased activity from booster clubs.
Pottsville school board members did approve the inter-school sports agreement at its meeting last week.
A vote on a potential pay-to-play program at Pottsville was put off at the school board’s June 2020 meeting. It’s not known if it will be revisited when board members meet again in July.
Under the proposal, high school students would pay more than junior high:
- $50 for grades 9-12
- $25 for grades 7-8
That’s a one-time fee. So, if a student plays football but is also in the band, they’d only get charged once for any activities joined for the year. Pottsville would not collect any more than 3 fees from a single household.
Pottsville-Saint Clair School Sports Agreement 2020-2021
Per a draft of the agreement between Pottsville and Saint Clair, Saint Clair agrees to pay Pottsville for costs associated with the following sports:
- Junior High Football
- Junior High Girls Basketball
- Junior High Wrestling
- Junior High Track
- Junior High Cheerleading
- HS Golf
- HS Tennis
Pay-to-Play Sports and Activities at Public Schools
There’s not a lot of scientific data available on how widespread or popular pay-to-play plans are at public schools nationwide or in Pennsylvania.
According to some dated information from the Pennsylvania School Board Association, in 2010, 60% of public schools nationwide did not have a pay-to-play plan in place.
Back in 2010, PSBA conducted its own survey of Pennsylvania schools and found even less here have pay-to-play in place. Of course, this was 10 years ago, so these figures could have changed. But it seems unlikely that it would have changed to alter the majority here.
According to their data, just 17.5% of Pennsylvania public schools had a pay-to-play system in place for sports and extra-curricular activities.
The PSBA says if districts do feel compelled to implement a pay-to-play policy for sports and extra-curricular activities, it must work in provisions for families that may have trouble paying the fees. And it must make the waiver program discreet so as not to embarrass families that may not be able to afford it.
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