School district proposes pay-to-play prices


Sports editor

Students now have a clue how much it is going to cost them to play sports next school year.

The Federal Way school district announced Tuesday its new pay-to-play proposal as part of the 2003-04 budget. According to a presentation to the School Board, the district is set to charge $70 per sport, per season with a maximum of $140 at the high-school level and $40 per sport in middle schools, with a cap of $120.

“Obviously, I am not in favor of charging kids for anything,” Superintendent Tom Murphy said. “Unfortunately, we are not in that situation.”

But the pay-to-play fees will take another steep rise during the 2004-05 school year, according to officials. That is when high school athletes will be charged $105 a sport and middle school prices will rise to $70 a sport.

“In order to provide students and parents with an opportunity to budget, athletic fees in year one will be subsidized, moving to the full rate in 2004-05,” Murphy said.

The School Board will vote on next year’s budget in August following a public hearing July 22.

The recommendation came after he met with a committee made up of Assistant Superintendent Mark Davidson, parents, coaches and athletic directors from the district. The committee reviewed state-wide practices and identified alternatives.

“It’s critical (to have the committee), because there are so many different models from across the state,” Murphy said. “They needed to decide what we need and what was most appropriate.”

Murphy’s original budget proposal in April called for the district to raise $445,000 a year to help offset a $6.4 million budget shortfall because of the expected loss of state funding, declining enrollment and increased fixed costs. Officials are hoping to recoup only $300,000 of that amount next year before earning the full $445,000 in 2004-05 when the pay-to-play rates go up.

The proposal also includes increasing the price of an Associated Student Body (ASB) card by $10 to $35 at the high-school level and $5 at middle schools to $15. ASB cards must be purchased to participate in extra-curricular activities at schools.

There are also no provisions in the budget to allow for scholarships or any type of financial aid for student/athletes with the inability to afford the price tag.

“If someone from the community wants to provide scholarships, that would be wonderful,” Murphy said.

Murphy points to the maximum charges — $140 next year at the three-sport season high schools — as something that might help decrease the burden on students and parents.

“We are actually hoping that the third sport being free will encourage kids to participate in three sports,” Murphy said.

Sports Editor Casey Olson: 925-5565,

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