RBHS mulls pay to play

Sports fee one of several on the table

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By BOB SKOLNIK

Next year you may have to pay to play a sport at Riverside-Brookfield High School. A new $25 fee to play a sport is one of a number of fee increases the District 208 school board will consider in June as the districts tries to reduce its operating deficit.

The pay to play fee would be $25 per sport, but would be capped at $150 per family so that no family would have to pay more than $150 in a school year no matter how teams their children joined.

It's estimated that the pay-to-play fee would raise about $22,500, said Interim Superintendent David Bonnette.

Most parents at a recent RB baseball game indicated they could live with such a fee.

"I would rather pay a fee for one of my kids to play on athletic team than a teacher lose a position," said Jill Rock, the mother of two RB athletes.

Mark Scott also said that the fee wouldn't deter his kids from playing sports, but wondered if parents who pay would demand playing time for their children.

"I don't have a problem with it," Scott said. "But my only problem with it is that when parents have to pay something for sports they tend to think that their kids should be playing equal amounts of time, and I think we're in high school and I think the best players should be playing."

Scott said that parents shell out much more than $25 for their kids to play on travel teams.

The school board is also considering raising a host of other fees, according to a memo Bonnette prepared for the school board.

The basic RB registration would increase to $140 from the current $130. Student parking would increase from $125 to $150, driver education would increase to $325 from $300 and a $5 fuel surcharge would be added to the cost of field trips.

The board may also consider a participation fee for non-athletic extracurricular activities.

Some parents say that if athletes are going to be charged a fee to be on a sport, then other students who participate in other activities should also have to pay.

"You can't charge one group and not charge the other," said Dennis James whose son is on the baseball team.

Shari Bongiorno agreed.

"It's almost like penalizing the athletes and the families," Bongiorno said. "If they're looking to raise money, they should make a $50 activity fee to cover sports and activities across the board for everything."

But others said that with uniforms and transportation, sports cost the school more money than other school clubs and it wouldn't be unfair to only make athletes pay a participation fee.

Bonnette said that the fee increases, not counting any fee for clubs and non-athletic activities would raise about $59,500 in revenue.

In RB's athletic conference, Fenton and Elmwood Park have charged athletes fees for a number of years. At Fenton, the fee is $40 per sport with an $80 cap per student. At Elmwood Park High School, the fee is $50 a sport but no student is charged more than $100 so, as at Fenton, a third sport is free.

Lyons Township High School, which serves the southern half of Brookfield, does not have a pay-to-play fee.

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