Cost of sports, clubs depends on number of pupils

Student council members, peer tutors would have to pay a fee to participate

BY PATRICIA A. MILLER
Staff Writer

HOWELL — Pay-to-play just got a lot more expensive.

Administrators in the Howell K-8 School District have posted a survey online listing the prices for various sports and clubs for the upcoming school year.

Prices for the “cut” sports, where students have to try out to make a team, are the highest. It would cost a parent $620 per child to play boys or girls middle school basketball, with a maximum of 12 students on the team.

“If you have a cut sport and you only have 12 kids, it [the cost to participate] will be a lot higher than a cross country team where we get 60 kids,” Howell Superintendent of Schools Enid Golden said on Aug. 2. “It was really just the math. We thought it was very high as well.”

Administrators are still looking at other options, such as having the Police Athletic League or other private sports organizations run intramural programs, she said.

“We want a backup plan if that falls through,” she said. We’re looking at organizations to run programs for us.”

Golden and Assistant Superintendent Karen Jones recommended in July that the district offer only middle school cross country in the fall and track and field in the spring.

But Board of Education members opted instead to try and offer a full spectrum of sports, provided that parents were willing to pick up the tab.

So the administration used a formula that factored in the cost of stipends for coaches, materials, transportation costs and the cost of having a school nurse on premises during after-school activities, the superintendent said.

“The biggest piece is the cost we pay the coach or the adviser,” Golden said.

The higher costs listed in the survey involve middle school sports teams that would be competing against teams from other school districts, as they have in the past.

Sports and co-curricular activities were cut from the 2010-11 budget as administrators tried to cope with the loss of nearly $5 million in state aid for the upcoming school year.

“What was originally proposed by the administration was only sports like cross country and track and field, and everybody would have paid a flat fee,” Golden said.

Any child participating would have paid $200 for sports and $150 for co-curricular activities under the administration’s proposal.

“That would have covered the cost of the student council, yearbook and peer tutoring,” Golden said.

But as it stands now, even students who participate in such service-oriented clubs and organizations like the student council, yearbook and peer tutoring will have to pay a fee.

For example, a student who wants to serve on the student council will be charged $160 per year. Students who tutor their peers will be charged $150 to participate in that program.

“Personally, I don’t think it was the best option,” Golden said. “Certain areas like peer tutoring and student council, it doesn’t make sense to pay.”

Golden got her first look at some of the survey results on Aug. 2 and was puzzled by the high number of positive responses for some of the categories.

For example, 85 parents indicated they would sign their children up for girls basketball, even though only 12 players would make a middle school team.

There are three middle schools in Howell.

The early results could mean the survey lacked the proper controls and some people were able to vote more than once, Golden said.

“I’m not sure those results aren’t tainted,” she said. “We seem to have gotten very high numbers in terms of people who said they would participate.”

Finding solutions to providing subscription sports is taking valuable time away from the instructional side, Golden said.

“This is what we should be focusing on,” she said. “We should be focusing on the instructional program.”

To access the survey, go to the school district’s Internet website at www.howell. K12.nj.us.

Do you have an opinion about this issue? Letters to the editor may be submitted via email to gmntnews@gmnews.com.