The Winlock School District Board is preparing to vote on a $50 pay-to-participate fee in an effort to help stem large financial losses in their athletics programs.
The fee would be per student and per sport (so a single student playing three sports during the school year would be charged $150) and would be expected to generate at least half of the roughly $26,000 in yearly athletics expenses not currently covered by ticket sales and fundraisers.
“We have to do something,” said Superintendent Shannon Criss to the board during their June 19 meeting. “Bottom line is: we’re $26,000 in the hole and we’re not getting [financially] healthy.”
Criss said the $50 rate would be the lowest among schools with pay-to-participate programs in the region and said it would likely not produce a decrease in participation, given the popularity of paid summer sports programs such as baseball, softball and soccer. She added the district has already been in contact with a community member who is willing to help set up a fund for students who may not be able to afford participation.
“Any student who qualifies for free and rescued meals would be eligible to have their participation fee paid in exchange for two to three hours of community service,” said Criss, stating students would simply document any applicable service in their application for the sport.
The district has been considering a pay-to-participate fee since August of last year in light of increasing athletics costs as well as joint sports programs with Toledo students, who do pay a $50 fee to their district for participation. Winlock officials had decided to wait last year to consider a fee as sports programs had already begun at the time.
A decision on the issue June 19 would have been expected except for the anticipated absence of two board members. The board does expect to bring fees to a vote during their July 30 meeting, which had been irregularly scheduled due to a prolonged special budgeting session by state legislators.