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El Paso County Colorado District 49

The costs for high school sports

Sixty percent of Colorado high school students compete in at least one sport, according to an August 2018 article in 5280 ó Denverís Mile High Magazine, The Trials and Tribulations of Raising a Colorado Athlete, written by Kasey Cordell.In the United States, parents spend about $671 per child annually, which covers registration fees, uniforms, lessons and coaching. Some parents spend more, with two out of 10 parents spending more than $1, 000 annually on school sports. The statistics are from the Feb. 3, 2020, article, Cost of School Athletics are Increasing, posted at Participation fees cost $126 per child on average per sport, but 18% of those who participate in high school sports pay $200 or more; however; 38% of students do not pay participation fees at all.Despite increasing costs, studies show that children who are involved in school athletics are more likely to attend tertiary school and are even more likely to earn higher wages than their peers who never participated in sports activities while in school, according to the Cost of School Athletics are Increasing article.Cordell, author of the 5280 ó Denverís Mile High Magazine article, said, ìStudy after study has demonstrated the value of youth sports in developing cooperation, leadership, resilience, confidence and all manner of other desirable (and hirable) qualities. Plus, sports are fun, which is the reason nine out of 10 kids play, according to a recent George Washington University study.Among Falcon, Sand Creek and Vista Ridge High Schools ó all part of El Paso County School District 49 ó 18 to 22 different sports programs are offered to their students. Jared Welch, athletic director at Sand Creek High School, said they have 215 boys and 151 girls participating in sports this fall. Chad Belveal, athletic director/assistant principal at Falcon High School said 331 students are involved in sports this fall; in total, they could have 600 students participating in one sport or more this school year. (D 49 did not provide statistics for Vista Ridge.)Student fees for sports are as low as $75 for E-sports (video games), all the way up to $1,365 for first year varsity cheer with the average fee about $300. According to the D 49 website, there is a†maximum cap on athletic fees†per school year of $450 for an individual athlete, or $750 for a family with multiple athletes (This does not apply to cheer teams.)Brett Ridgeway, D 49 chief business officer, said D 49 established fees for certain activities, classes and educational pursuits that have a limited opportunity for access (e.g. sports teams), a limited utilization of service (e.g. daily transportation) or a limited/optional need for programming. He said rather than asking all students to contribute monies from their per-pupil revenue to fund activities they did not participate in, they decided to charge a fee to defray associated costs for these items.D 49 does a lot of work with their budget and provides a financial transparency page on the website, he said. The 2021-22 district-adopted budget is a 447 page document that includes all the extracurricular programs and their perspective fees.Page 93 states, ìWe want every student to receive the highest benefit possible from their relative share of per-pupil revenue,î which is why the goal is to offer these activities, while preserving per-pupil revenue for students who do not make those extracurricular choices,î Ridgeway said.Every dollar used for an extracurricular program that does not have a fee would come out of the PPR, he said. That means students who donít participate in those programs are in a sense contributing part of their PPR for the existence of those programs. ìItís just like when people ask why we have a transportation fee; itís because not everyone needs transportation,î Ridgeway said. ìSo not all students need to pay for the bus.î He said the bottom line is D 49 does not pay for extracurricular activities out of per-pupil revenue because that means more money for the regular educational programs.The fee program spreads the cost out among the students and parents who participate in these programs and activities, Ridgeway said. For those students who canít afford the fees and qualify for free or reduced lunch, they can apply and get the reduced rate of 50% or possibly have the fee waived, he said.The district pays for the basic safety equipment, like football helmets, for each sport through the general fund, Ridgeway said. There is also subsidy assistance through athletic director monies that can be used to supplement programs if needed, he said. ìItís not a lot of money necessarily, but thereís a lot of opportunity to create trust and goodwill with the community,î Ridgeway said. ìWe want to show them how careful we are with the small amounts of money, because thatís as important to us as the hundreds of millions we get from the state or federal government.îHe said if the students or parents want a nicety like new uniforms or an inflated tunnel to run through, then that becomes part of the fees or fundraising efforts.ìWe want to provide a balance between providing activities like sports, while preserving each students PPR for education so they can achieve to their potential, do as well as they can and be in a position to succeed,î Ridgeway said.

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