Pay-to-play should become reality Tuesday


Sports editor

The pay-to-play era inside the Federal Way Public School District should become official Tuesday. That is when the School Board is set to approve its 2004-05 budget, which includes middle and high school student/athletes paying for sports participation.

“It is supposed to happen, but (the School Board) still has to vote on it,” said Assistant Superintendent Mark Davidson. “That is the plan, but I can’t say for sure. It would be nice if they did it sooner, so we can start planning out the little details and make it as friendly as possible.”

The School Board could delay the vote on the much-anticipated 2003-04 budget until its next meeting, Aug. 26, if they choose, according to Davidson.

“There are always little details that need to get worked out,” he said.

The budget, which was presented by Superintendent Tom Murphy in April, called for the district to raise $445,000 a year through a pay-to-play proposal to help offset a $6.4 million shortfall because of the expected loss of state funding, declining enrollment and increased fixed costs. In June, Murphy announced a plan to recoup only $300,000 of that next school year before earning the full $445,000 in 2004-05 when pay-to-play rates go up. The district plans to use $1.5 million in contingency fund money next year to help ease the pain, officials say.

According to Davidson, the district is set to charge $70 per sport, per season with a maximum charge of $140 a year at the high-school level and $40 per sport in middle schools, with a cap of $120, next school year. But rates will increase to $105 a sport for high school athletes and $70 a sport at middle schools in 2004-05.

Following the School Board’s approval of the budget, Davidson and his staff can start working out the details and logistics of implementing the pay-to-play fees. Details like when payments will be collected and if payments will be charged if an athlete is injured during the season, among other things.

In a memo circulated to athletic directors, principals and office managers last month, Davidson describes some of the details about the new athletic participation fees.

The memo states if a student is injured and cannot participate or withdraws from school before the midpoint of the season, a full refund will be granted. If this occurs after the midpoint of the season, a 50 percent refund will be granted.

“Any student who quits the team or who is removed from the team due to inappropriate behavior or academic ineligibility will not be eligible for a refund,” the memo reads.

The memo also reminds athletic directors and principals to remind students and their parents that payment of participation fees does not guarantee a spot on the team, playing time or a letter award.

“All of the conditions of being a team member apply as if the fee did not exist,” it says. “That includes playing time based on the coach’s decision. Participation fees do not confer authority to make demands of the school related to the athletic department. Paying the fee does not give the athlete or her/his parents a greater voice in how the program is operated.

“The school administration must maintain complete control, even if the program(s) depends on participation fees or outside contributions from other organizations, such as booster clubs.”

“We want to make it as friendly as possible,” Davidson said.

Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565,

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