The number of school districts reporting charging fees for students to participate in athletics and other extracurricular activities has jumped to 30 percent, up from the 13 percent reported in a 2010 study.
The Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) partnered with the Pennsylvania State Athletic Directors Association (PSADA) on the recent study conducted online and at PSADA's 2012 annual conference.
The fees, commonly referred to as pay-to-play, ranged between $10 and $250 with a statewide average of $65 per sport, per student for Pennsylvania public school students. A notable number (13 percent) of districts also reported being forced to eliminate or cut athletic programs for financial reasons in the last year.
"The significant increase of districts using pay-to-play from just two years ago illustrates how continued cuts to education funding are impacting students and their families," said Todd Hosterman, senior research associate with PSBA and author of the study. "Many districts are discussing the option of charging fees in light of budget shortfalls this year so it would not be surprising if the number increases once budgets are finalized for 2012-13."
School districts reporting charging student participation fees seem fairly evenly spread over Pennsylvania, representing 16 of 29 Intermediate Units and 20 of 67 counties. Only one school district that reported charging student participation fees is designated as urban. All remaining districts were split evenly between rural and suburban locations.
The latest survey was conducted by PSBA's Education Research and Policy Center in partnership with Pennsylvania State Athletic Directors Association. There were 128 respondents to the survey.
PSBA is a nonprofit statewide association of public school boards, pledged to the highest ideals of local lay leadership for the public schools of the Commonwealth. Founded in 1895, PSBA was the first school boards association established in the United States.
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Steve Robinson is the director of publications and public relations for the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, Mechanicsburg.