After months of discussion about eliminating pay to play fees, Brighton Area School Board members decided to postpone a decision until more information becomes available.
Brighton Area Schools charges a participation fee to all students in athletic programs for Scranton Middle School and Brighton High School. Annually, pay to play fees bring in about $240,000 for the district.
Superintendent Greg Gray came up with three different options for the district: 100 percent elimination of pay-to-play fees, a two-year plan eliminating pay-to-play fees by cutting costs by 50 percent each year, or a four-year plan eliminating pay to play fees, cutting costs by 25 percent each year.
Gray recommended the third option, eliminating the fees over a span of four years.
Trustee Miles Vieau was in favor of 100 percent elimination.
"We're in tough times right now and there's a lot of students who can't afford to participate, that's probably the biggest thing with me," he said. "And I know being involved with some of the athletic kids, they're afraid to come forward and tell Mr. Thompson (Brighton Schools Athletic Director) or their coaches that they can't afford to do it. It's not cool to let everybody know. I don't think we should be putting kids in that type of situation. It's not fair to them. They're losing out."
Vieau said now is the time to eliminate the fees because of new revenue coming in from shared services and best practices from the state.
The School Board's student representative, senior Harrison Jones, said during a previous meeting that his family only allowed one sport per child each year because of their budget. However, even given that, he said he was in favor of a reduction over time in order to be more fiscally responsible.
Treasurer Jay Krause said after this year, the district will still have more than $6 million in debt to chisel away at and eliminating the fees altogether would not be fiscally responsible.
"Just to say it's the right time to do something, just because it's the right time isn't a good reason," Krause said. "We still have over $6 million that we need to chisel away at. And this isn't helping that. I do believe we need to give relief to the community. All my kids have played sports, I've paid this money. It's not something you enjoy doing, but it's what you do. So I think if we could retro this out at 25 percent a year, the community sees that we're supporting them in hard times and we're trying to do what we can, but we're also doing what is fiscally responsible - what we've been elected to do."
Brighton pay to play fees compared to other KLAA Conference SchoolsSchool 1st Sport 2nd Sport 3rd Sport Max Cost per Family Brighton High $175 $175 No Charge $600 per family* Brighton Middle $100 $100 No Charge $600 per family* Hartland High $175 $175 $175 No cap Hartland Middle $95 No Charge No Charge No cap Howell High $150 $50 No Charge $300 for 7th-12th grades Howell Middle No Charge No Charge No Charge $300 for 7th-12th grades
*Brighton Schools have a family cap in place of $600 per building or $1,100 for middle and high school buildings. Brighton also has an additional $35 charge for transportation.
Any students who qualified for free or reduced lunches are not required to pay the pay to play fee in Brighton schools.
There are currently only three districts within the conference that do not have any pay to play fees: Wayne Westland Community Schools and Grand Blanc Community Schools and Waterford Public Schools.
Gray said those two districts also had much higher funding than Brighton Area Schools.
Board members voted to hold off on making a decision until more information becomes available, such as if the $88.4 million bond issue will pass on May 8, the 2012-2013 budget and what state revenue for shared services and best practices will be.