Updated April 17, 11:40 a.m.
No sports teams will be eliminated at Riverside-Brookfield High School next year. The tradeoff? Next year RBHS will have perhaps the highest pay-to-play fee among public high schools in the Chicago area.
Responding to an outcry from many parents and students on April 10, the District 208 school board voted 6 to 1 to raise the pay the pay to participate fee to $200 from the current $75 fee instead of cutting any sports. Raising the fee to $200 is expected to bring in $110,000 in additional revenue nearly double the cost of the four sports – boys and girls water polo, boys volleyball and girls golf – that were on the chopping block.
Laura Hruska cast the only vote against raising the pay to participate fee to $200.
“My preference, because we were raising fees everywhere, was to see it at $190,” Hruska said. “Everybody wanted to keep as many opportunities for kids as they could. I could support that. Since it was raised that $190 probably would have been enough, I would have preferred to have done the least amount we needed to raise it.”
Before voting, the school board heard entreaties and testimonials from numerous boys water polo players and the parents of water polo players imploring the board not to eliminate the sport.
Many parents have said that they would be willing to pay higher fees to preserve their children’s sports teams.
“We heard what the parents had to say and we wanted to honor that,” said District 208 school board President Matt Sinde.
Board member Tim Walsh said the comments influenced his vote.
“We get a lot criticism no matter what we do,” Walsh said. “Apparently people are willing to pay for it.”
Cathi Parisi, the mother of a girls water polo player, was overjoyed that the board decided not to eliminate water polo or any other sport.
“I am absolutely thrilled that water polo was saved this evening,” Parisi said. “We had a lot of great students that showed up and spoke on their own behalf, and a lot of parents showed up in support of water polo. We have a beautiful aquatics center and the community has paid for it, so we should be using it. We’re glad it’s going to be utilized.”
Two assistant coaching positions in cross country that were cut this year will be restored next year at a combined cost of $10,468. The boys and girls cross country teams were too large for just one coach for each to handle safely, Athletic Director Art Ostrow said.
The athletic department supply budget will be cut 30 percent next year, which is projected to save $11,500.
The school board also voted unanimously to bring back funding for three extracurricular activities that were cut this year – the math team, the speech team and the spring musical.
To pay for this and to raise revenue, the basic school registration fee will be increased from $190 to $200 next year and clubs will be put on a pay-to-participate system.
Students will be charged a fee of $75 or $100 to be a member of high school clubs. The $75 fee would be charged for clubs that do not require school provided transportation to competitions.