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Talawanda eliminates fees for sports, student activities

Pay to participate fees were eliminated by the Talawanda board of education by a 3-0 vote Monday.

Eliminating the fees will cost the district $83,000 in revenue, according to officials.

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Some residents said the fees were a deterrent to many students being able to participate in sports because their family could not afford the cost.

Scholarships have been available, but many respondents of a recent survey said they either did not know about the scholarships or were reluctant to ask for help.

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A recent survey of more than 600 district parents revealed that 25 percent of those surveyed said pay to participate limited their child’s participation in sports.

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The motion was made Aug. 20 by school board member Patrick Meade to eliminate the fees, which apply to any extracurricular activities, not just sports. Mary Jane Roberts gave a second and it passed 3-0, with board member Chris Otto also voting in favor and board members Michael Crowder and Mark Butterfield abstaining from the vote because they have children enrolled in the district who would be impacted.

“I support eliminating pay to participate, but I am against it coming out of the general fund budget,” Crowder said after the vote. “I’d like it to come out of the athletic budget.”

Other athletic department recommendations had been the hiring of a strength and conditioning coach to work with athletes in all sports as well as paying fees for coaches’ re-certification and increasing the annual funding for uniform purchases.

Mike Davis, the district’s treasurer and CFO, reminded the school board that Ohio law caps the amount public schools can spend on extracurriculars at one-half of 1 percent of the operating budget. That amount, he said, refers to non-payroll costs, and applies to all extracurricular activities, not just sports.

He said the Talawanda budget would make that cap amount approximately $179,000 this year and current planned and expected costs are approximately $153,000.

“My duty is to let the board know there is a cap,” he said.

“As I look at this list, my highest priority would be uniforms,” Otto said. “That would be great for our students.”

He then made a motion to increase the uniform budget, but there was no second and the motion failed.

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