By Anthony Serafino
Holt Journal staff writer
For the 2013-2014 academic year, Holt public schools are implementing a pay-to-participate program for school students wishing to play sports. The program would affect students from seventh grade to twelfth grade. Students in grades seven to eight will be charged $100 per sport, and students in grades nine to twelve will be charged $150. A total family cap of $300 is available for families who have their children playing different sports in the same season.
Due to a $3 million reduction in state funding, the program would allow the athletic department to operate more efficiently according to Holt High School athletic director, Rick Schmidt.
“We believe that the budget will be more stable with the changes, and can ensure that all of our students will have an equal opportunity to play competitive sports,” Schmidt said.
When asked how parents received the new program, Schmidt remained very confident that residents would be accepting.
“There haven’t been too many complaints, if any. Again, with budgets being the way they are people were accepting. They also were used to paying for the kids sports outside of the school team (AAU, clubs, youth teams, etc.),” Schmidt said.
Boys varsity tennis Coach Russ Olcheske echoed the same confidence as Schmidt.
“The students don’t seem to be bothered by it too much. For the most part, parents pay the fee. In some cases, the kid has to pay, and we might lose a few kids for this reason,” Olcheske said.
Olcheske said he believes the community has handled it well, as Holt public schools was one of the last school districts in the area to implement a pay-to-participate policy.
“As far as I know, Lansing is the only school district that does not charge. Our fees are still below many of our neighboring districts. I also think parents realize that kids benefit in many areas by playing high school sports, and that being asked to fund part of that experience is a fair tradeoff.” —Russ Olcheske
Current Holt varsity tennis player Robert Lemond said many students were not concerned about fees because the school decided to cut other things such as transportation.
“Parents had to drive us to events instead of the bus. I believe there was a thing for students who were less fortunate like scholarship thing but mostly football players had that. Also our competitiveness was almost the same. I mean overall the fee isn’t too bad, Okemos charges their students around $350,” Lemond said.
Current Michigan State University student and former Holt varsity tennis player Zachary Ray said when he started high school there was no program in place, but knew the price would not keep a student from playing a sport because booster clubs help.
“Holt is a nice place, so I would say rarely would that price keep a player from being able to play. Most sports had booster clubs to raise money and help to cuts costs for students. I know we were one of the later schools to implant that kind of pay to play plan. I could definitely see it being a bigger problem from districts that have a poorer population. A hundred dollars is still a lot of money for families that have to live paycheck to paycheck,” Ray said.
Ray said he did not have a problem with playing to play but did not think it was completely necessary.
“Though the pricing I thought was fair for the situation, I don’t think it’s fair for a student to have to pay to play sports through their school,” he said.