After boasting about expecting a $1.2 million surplus next year, and a $600,000 surplus this year, Pottsville Area school board members voted 8-1 on Wednesday to approve what they’re calling a “Pay to Participate” program.
More commonly referred to as a “Pay to Play” program, high school students will be charged $50 to participate in any extra-curricular or sports activities. The fee for students in grades 7 and 8 is $25.
Pottsville Area Approves $50 Pay-to-Play Scheme for Extra-curricular Activities and Sports
As it was passed, this is a one-time fee and one $50 payment covers a student no matter how many extra-curricular activities they choose through a school year.
The vote on this pay-to-play scheme comes after it was previously tabled months ago. When it was last placed on the agenda, Pottsville Area school board members were considering dropping several sports programs. However, no vote was ever taken then as more options were considered.
At that time, the school district was reeling in financial trouble. It appears, at least on the surface, that those tough economic times are behind the district, based on the reports presented at Wednesday’s regular monthly meeting.
During a 2021-2022 budget presentation, the board revealed that the district expects to operate in the black to the tune of $1.2 million. For this current school year, Pottsville Area is expected to see a $600,000 surplus in revenue vs. expenses.
So then, why vote to tack on an additional fee to students to participate in extra-curricular activities? Certainly a head-scratcher and one that’s likely to get some blow-back from a school population that’s become less better off financially over time.
According to a University of Michigan study in 2019, pay-to-play schemes at schools generally affects lower income families more and will prevent some students from participating in these extra-curricular activities.
The $50 Pottsville Area is charging pales in comparison to the average cost of pay-to-play schemes nationwide. University of Michigan found the average P2P costs are:
- $161 for sports
- $86 for arts
- $46 for clubs
As it’s presented for now, Pottsville is not offering a no-cost alternative – like public service in exchange for the fee.
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