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ConVal reinstates athletic fees after two-year study



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Tuesday, June 05, 2018 8:34AM

ConVal High School plans to put athletic fees back in place for all of its sports starting in the fall, based on the results of a study into whether the fees impacted student participation.

Interim Principal Gib West said in a May 24 email to parents that for two years the district did not charge students athletic fees in order to study if money impacted participation.

“The results were presented to the school board some months ago and, given that there appeared to be no correlation, the determination was made by the school board to resume our prior practice,” West wrote.

However, when the topic was discussed during an Aug. 22 school board meeting, Mark Swasey, the school’s athletic director, said suspending fees did have an impact on participation in some seasons and recommended the board continue waiving athletic participation fees.

He reported that when there were no participation fees in place, there was an increase in fall-sport participation, according to meeting minutes. An article published in the Ledger-Transcript at the time reported that Swasey said sports in other seasons also felt a boost after fees were suspended. 

“The key is to look at the percentages because as enrollment has declined, our numbers have actually stayed fairly steady and have increased in some respects,” Swasey said at the meeting, according to an article published in the Ledger-Transcript after the Aug. school board meeting.

Swasey declined to comment on Monday.

The district spent about $45,000 each year the fees were waived.

School board Vice Chair Rich Cahoon said during the Aug. meeting, the board was waiving fees “for students of doctors and lawyers but disadvantaging other students,” according to the meeting minutes.

The conversation about whether or not the board should put fees back in place has been happening for some time and was pushed off by the board at least once because the sports season had already started. During the Aug. meeting, the board moved to waive athletic fees for fall and winter sports that school year.

The school board decided to resume its prior practice of charging students for sports activities at a recent meeting.

“This decision is important as these dollars help us support the rising costs of providing athletic programming, managing games, and transportation,” the email reads.

Fees range in price from $25 to $125, depending on the sport. The school’s football and hockey teams are the most expensive out of 23 sports teams that the district offers.

David Springfield, the athletic director for the Jaffrey-Rindge School District, said, for the most part, the district doesn’t charge students to play sports. Springfield said that Conant High School students on the co-operative ice hockey team do have to pay a “substantial fee” of $800 to be on the team, which includes transportation, ice time, and other costs associated with the sport. He didn’t know how much money the district spent on waiving athletic fees every year, directing the question to the superintendent.

“In a perfect world, kids wouldn’t have to pay to play,” Springfield said, although he added that the decision differs from district-to-district.

He said in some of the districts in which students do have to pay to play, there are often scholarships available to help students who want to join a team, but don’t have the resources.

ConVal has said that a single athlete will not have to pay more than $150 per school year regardless of how many seasons they play. Additionally, families are not being asked to pay more than $225 per school year no matter how many family members participate in sports.