Policy Committee Discusses Pay-to-Play Fees
WETHERSFIELD - Wethersfield school district pay-to-play fees, which have not been increased in 10 years, might be seeing a jump soon.

       The Board of Education Policy Planning Committee discussed this prospect at its meeting last Tuesday night, March 19, deciding that a more thorough analysis of the district’s participation cost system needs to be done before a move is made. The Committee wants to find out what each sport charges and then assess what would constitute fair fees based on a comparison between each of them.

       For less cost-heavy sports, the district typically charges about $150 per child, per sport.

       “If my kid plays soccer in the fall, and basketball in the winter, and baseball in the spring, it’s $150 each time,” said Board of Education Policy Planning Committee member Polly Moon.

       For contact sports like football and hockey, expect the cost to be even more, given the need to constantly replace equipment such as shoulder pads, helmets, etc., Moon said.

       A student looking to play ice hockey, for example, can expect a fee of around $400, while football tends to carry a $200 price tag, Committee members said.

       Currently, each sport pays for itself with the fees it collects, but Board of Education Chairwoman Janis Malec proposed pooling all of the money collected together to pay for everything.

       “It all goes in one pile to pay for all the kids,” Malec said.

       While Moon suggested a “gradual increase over two years,” Committee member Charles Carey had a different idea.

       “You’re talking about raising [the fees]; I want to eliminate it,” Carey said, noting the rarity of pay-to-play policies in other school districts.

       Sounds good, but Wethersfield would have to find a way to pay for it somehow, Committee members said.

       “How many teachers get the pink slip to pay for sports?” Malek said.

       Committee members are trying to figure out if basketball, which will be unplayable at Wethersfield High School grounds next season due to the renovation project, will shoulder extra costs given the need to find another facility for every game.

       “You can work with other schools,” said Assistant Superintendent of Schools Tim Howes. “[Maybe they] say ‘we don’t have a game tonight--you can use it.’”

       Busing remains an issue even in that scenario, noted Moon.

       “But then you have a transportation issue,” she said. “You’ll want everyone to meet up and then go there.”

       The Committee has a little extra time to assess the situation, given the fact that the cost policy does not have to be finished by fall, Malek said.

       “Nothing says we can’t say that for the fall semester it stays the same, then January it goes up,” she said.