Mesa student athletes keep up with new pay-to-play fee - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Education News

Mesa student athletes keep up with new pay-to-play fee

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Posted: Thursday, May 24, 2012 4:39 pm

Mesa student athletes largely paid the full $100-per-sport participation fee this school year, according to a report presented this week.

The Mesa Unified School District implemented the pay-to-pay program just this year. The governing board wanted an update, which was delivered Tuesday by Steve Hogen, who oversees Mesa’s athletic programs.

More than 2-in-3 athletes paid the full $100, he said, or 67 percent. As of two weeks ago, when the information was gathered, 6 percent still owed fees, while 22 percent received a partial waiver and 5 percent received a full waiver.

Though he was still awaiting a final report, Hogen said he expected many of those unpaid fees to be collected. Unresolved fees can result in a student being excluded from prom or receiving a diploma, he said.

Hogen said that in a majority of the cases where a waiver was awarded, it was for a student who was going into his or her second or third sport of the year.

Altogether, the district had gathered $389,879 as of mid May. Had all the fees been paid, it would have resulted in $507,700.

Most of the waivers were awarded to students at Westwood High School, followed by students at Mesa High School, then Skyline High School.

Only 12 percent of student athlete fees at Red Mountain High School were paid through a partial or full waiver, Hogen said.

School board member Mike Hughes asked if the district leaders could bring the board a report about what the result would be if the fee was cancelled for next year.

Hogen expressed concern that — now that the program is in place and athletes are used to it — could cause a problem if it was taken away, only to be brought back again a few years down the road.

Hogen said that the district estimates there are only 50 fewer student athletes this year than last year, suggesting the fee did not have a negative impact. The district also has fewer students this year.

But Hughes wondered if some families didn’t bother applying for a waiver, and instead took on the financial burden.

Nearly every district in the East Valley now requires a pay-to-play fee. The only exception, Hogen said, is Chandler Unified School District.

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