Saturday, May 10, 2003

Pickerington parents propose pay-to-play to salvage activities

The Associated Press

PICKERINGTON, Ohio - An athletic boosters club will propose charging students hefty fees to participate in extracurricular activities in a school district that is considering dropping such programs.

The school board in this Columbus suburb might discontinue sports, band, drama and other activities for the district's 8,400 students after voters defeated a 7.9-mill operating levy on Tuesday.

"We're asking the board to allow for parents to pay for it themselves," Geno Persichetti, co-chairman of the club at Pickerington High School, said Thursday.

Persichetti said he will ask the board Monday to immediately set up a pay-to-play program so fall activities can be saved. He said fall sports teams need a decision by the end of the month if they are to keep or plan scheduled games.

For the upcoming school year, high school football costs $610 per student; basketball, $1,082; soccer, $455; and swimming, $927. The least expensive sport per participant is track, at $270. The most expensive is golf, at $1,286.

Hope Boren, a parent, said the boosters want the board to average out the cost and charge the same fee per sport.

"I would be willing to pay whatever it costs," she said.

The girls basketball team has won six state championships in 10 years; the boys basketball teams have won two district titles in recent years; the football team qualified for the state playoffs three times in four years; and the softball and cross country teams both were state champions in 1997.

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