Tuesday, July 09, 2002

Ft. Thomas kids to pay more to play sports

By Earnest Winston, ewinston@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        FORT THOMAS — Students in Fort Thomas schools will be required to pay more to play sports, a move necessary to help offset budget problems.

        The Fort Thomas school board unanimously approved a plan Monday to increase the athletic fee from $25 to $50, effective this fall.

        Last year, athletic fees brought in more than $14,000. The increased fee is expected to generate an additional $16,000. Students at Highlands Middle and Highland High schools will be affected.

        “The $50 fee will simply be to facilitate transportation needs for athletics,” School Board Chairman Brad Fennell said.

        Board members said the fee increase is necessary because the $50,000 transportation budget for athletics was slashed in order to help balance the district's budget for 2002-03. They said the state's funding formula — which is based on local property values — has put a financial strain on their budget. Fort Thomas and other districts with high property values bring in more local taxes, but they get less state money.

        Several board members pledged that no student would be excluded from a sport because they are unable to pay the fee.

        “We don't want any child to not be able to participate in athletics because they do not have the funds,” Mr. Fennell said. “We would never allow that to happen.”

        Superintendent Larry Stinson said the athletic fee has been$25 for about 10 years.

        Wayne Young, executive director of the Kentucky Association of School Administrators, expects more schools to increase or add athletic fees due to budget problems. “If it's not common, it will probably soon become so,” Mr. Young said.

        “That's because of the budget issues that schools are facing. They're going to be looking at lots and lots of ways to cut expenses and freeze receipts. One of the ways you do that is make athletics and other activities that are not essential school curriculum instructional activities self-supporting.”

        In Bellevue, officials are considering establishing a $20 athletic fee because of financial problems. It has not been decided whether the fee will be per-sport or a one-time charge. Several larger school districts, including Covington Independent Schools and Cincinnati Public Schools, do not require students to pay an athletic fee to participate.

        At Campbell County High School, students pay a $15 fee per sport.


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