Queen Creek middle school athletes who want to be involved in sports next school year will have to start paying an athletic fee. The students will also have to find a ride home, because the district will no longer provide bus transportation for after-school activities.
It’s another way the cash-strapped Queen Creek Unified School District is finding to cut costs and bring in more money to help offset the $70,650 a year the district pays to participate in the East Valley Conference, which includes 10 schools, including those in Chandler and Casa Grande.
Middle school athletes will now need to pay a $30 fee per athlete, per season, not to exceed $90 per family, per year. Scholarships will be available for families who need help paying the new fees.
The Queen Creek school board approved the measures Tuesday.
The new fees will be required for athletes participating in athletics such as basketball, soccer and cross country.
The $70,650 costs includes $49,350 for coaching salaries, $7,700 for officials and $7,445 for transportation. The district also pays $1,200 in dues and $5,000 for equipment and uniforms.
The money collected from athletic fees will be used for transportation, equipment and officials, said Denise Johnson, Queen Creek Middle School principal.
Karla Chapman, whose son plays volleyball at the middle school, said she doesn’t have a problem with the new fees, as long as it’s going to sports.
“I feel like to get good coaches or to get good refs, if it costs a little bit, that’s fine,” Chapman said.
Most school districts charge an athletic fee. The fees range from $1 per athlete, per season, in the Chandler Unified School District, to $53 per athlete, with no family discounts, in the Gilbert Unified School District.
Queen Creek will save $53,600 by not offering bus transportation for after-school activities. Because of the later start times in next year’s schedule, middle school students will participate in sports later. These new times will make it easier for parents to pick up their children after practice, Johnson said.
Parent Evan Nielsen said it’s unfortunate the extra fees are needed, but he understands why students are being asked to pay to play.
“I think in the end this will be a reasonable thing. However, I’m glad they put a cap on this,” said Nielsen, whose four boys play track, football, basketball, baseball and volleyball.