The next time you dish out $400 for a new bat or $200 for athletic shoes; don't forget to reach a little deeper for another $100 to pay for your son/daughter to play Virginia High School League (VHSL) sports in Montgomery County next year.
The Montgomery County School Board voted early Wednesday morning to start charging $100 per child to participate in a VHSL sport or event, per season, with a $300 cap. This new charge will take effect starting with the 2012-13 school year.
The "pay-as-your-play" charge came about because of the school budget shortfall this year.
According to Wendell Jones, school board chairman," It was either pay to play or cut ALL middle school athletics"
Montgomery County is not the first school to enact this fee, as there are currently more than a dozen school systems across the Commonwealth that charge athletes to play.
"The following school divisions either have a pay to participate plan in place this year or have adopted such a plan for next year (not all of these are necessarily for all VHSL activities; some are just for sports): Albemarle, Augusta, Culpeper, Fluvanna, Hampton, Isle of Wight, Loudoun, New Kent, Orange, Spotsylvania, West Point, Williamsburg/James City and York," said Mike McCall, Information and Communications Specialist for the VHSL.
"Poquoson used to have the policy, but they dropped it a few years ago. Fairfax also had such a policy recently, but I think they also did away with it," added McCall.
According to Loudoun County school officials, they require that each student pay a non-refundable athletic fee of $100 for each sport in which he or she is a confirmed member.
In Loudoun County, the fee is waived for students that qualify for the free or reduced lunch program.
As to rather or not the fee will be waived here is still up in the air. However, according to Jones, "If the family needs financial support the schools and/or various boosters need to step up."
Jones further added "Pay to play will be the standard in all divisions before long ... no way school divisions can continue to fully fund all the sports, equipment, officials, maintenance ... We're still getting beat up over not have a "Lacrosse" team in the larger high schools."