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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

HB 1198: "Pay to Play" on House Ed. Wed. Agenda

Yesterday's post on referee and judge pay provoked a discussion of "pay to play," charging students fees to participate in extracurricular activities. HB 1198 would do just that. This bill was on last Friday's House Education committee agenda, but it got deferred to tomorrow (Wednesday).

Now note that this bill does not require fees for participation; it actually increases local control, allowing school boards to impose fees if they see fit. It is also limited to "any interscholastic activity for which no academic credit is earned." It occurs to me that debaters might not be subject to such fees, since some schools (quite rightly, given the semester's worth of speeches the typical debater makes in one weekend) make competition in speech contests part of the requirements for earning credit in debate or speech classes.

A few of my readers have argued that all extracurriculars should be off budget, supported entirely by non-school clubs (as in Europe). I don't know if I could go so far. Extracurricular activities have a fair amount of educational value (yes, even football). I don't like the idea of creating fees that could price some kids out of extra-curricular activities. But schools manage to set up free/reduced lunch prices; it wouldn't be hard to establish a similar program for activity participation fees.

There are no free lunches: balls and pads and debate briefcases cost money. The question HB 1198 poses: should immediate users of those items pay a higher proportion of the costs, or do those activities provide a public benefit that we all should support equally with our tax dollars? Let's hear our man on House Education, Rep. Mitch Fargen (D-8/Flandreau), lead that discussion in committee tomorrow.


  1. We have been conditioned to believe that free public education includes everything we can dump on the schools as being their responsibility. Education means academic education to prepare a person to hold a job and pay his way in society. Extracurriculars (emphasize extra (outside) curriculum) are just that - activities outside of what should be funded by the taxpayers. They are admittedly important, but that doesn't mean that taxpayers should pay for them. Creating a socialized, well rounded individual is the responsibility of the parents, community, church, etc, not taxpayers via schools.

    This is a great bill, but it won't go anywhere because of the sports rule mantra in this state.

    Again, I get back to the mantra of WAKE UP, PEOPLE, we only have a limited amount of money in the state and nation. Of course, now that O's great stimulus package is a-comin' we won't have to worry about this anyway.

    Our kids and grandkids will, but not us. So spend away.

  2. I am unbiased either way concerning pay to play. I have had kids go through the system that have been in the Club sports where you have to play to participate, and they have also participated in the school sponsored programs, so I have seen it both ways.

    Our neighbor to the east, Minnesota is a pay to play state. I can not remember the name or location of the school, but there was a can of worms that was opened by the pay to play policy.

    Pay to play is policy at any level in the state of Minnesota. Middle School students pay at a different rate than High School students. Junior Varsity also pays at a lower rate than the Varsity teams.

    The problem arose when a middle school student was moved up to varsity level competition. Her parents were suing the school system on the basis that their child was in middle school not high school, therefor the fee should be at the lower rate. This is the problem that I can see happening in SD.

    I never did hear what the resolution of this law suit was.

  3. This bill is a great first step. Eventually we need to remove all extra curricular activities from schools. Schools are for scholarship and scholarly endeavors. Extra-curricular stuff belongs in clubs as is the case with hockey, soccer, etc.

    When we remove extra-curricular distractions from schools, suddenly the schools will have more than enough money.

  4. Anon 5:22 may be a little off course in the assumption that removing activities from schools will magically balance the budget. Activities including debate, band, athletics is only 4% of most school budgets. In Madison, it amounts to around $300,000 out of $7 Million. The majority of budget cost is payroll (teacher salaries and support staff), so activities are a relatively small cost compared to the 85% participation level at MHS. When 4% of your budget gets 85% of your students involved in an activity of some sort, that's good, smart spending.

  5. I know that 4% is always quoted as the cost. But does this include the extra money for coaches, the gas for travel all over the state for all the various activities, the money needed for extra facilities for these activities, not to mention the fact that many teachers are teachers second and coaches first, not all, but many?


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