BROOKSVILLE — How much would parents be willing to pay so their children can play?
Hernando School Board members have acknowledged in recent months that charging user fees for middle school sports may be necessary to bolster a tight 2010-11 budget. Eleven sports programs at seven middle schools cost the district about $200,000 last year.
Board members asked for a sport-by-sport cost breakdown to get a sense of the difference in the price tag for, say, golf and basketball. The board will have the numbers from the 2008-09 school year during a workshop discussion on the subject Tuesday.
The results of an online survey conducted this month will also be ready by then. The survey asked parents whether their children would continue to participate in middle school sports if the district levied a fee of $50 per sport, with a cap on maximum participation fees for families with multiple athletes and/or students who participate in multiple sports.
The survey ended Thursday, but results were not available by Friday.
According to the cost breakdown, $50 would be a bargain in all but a handful of cases.
Last school year, the average districtwide, per-student cost for each sport ranged from $62.43 for boys track to $164.31 for girls basketball. The expenditures are primarily for transportation and supplemental pay for coaches. Each school bears other costs, such as referee fees, typically using revenue from football gate admission and booster club activities, said Dave Schoelles, the curriculum supervisor working on the middle school sports fee proposal.
The districtwide averages don't fluctuate much year to year, Schoelles said. Two of the biggest factors are gas prices and the number of away games and matches teams attend each year, he said.
But the per-student costs at each school can and do vary, based on the number of participants.
For example, the district paid $103 for each of the 33 students at West Hernando Middle School who took part in girls basketball last year. Compare that to the $252 paid for each of the 15 girls who played basketball at Explorer K-8.
In only three cases was the per-student cost at a school less than $50, and it wasn't by much. The cheapest: $41 for each of the 48 boys track participants at Explorer.
As board members consider whether to put a fee in place for next year, they will have another way to gauge opinion on the issue.
Two public meetings are set for Monday. Parents can offer input on sports fees and another controversial issue on Tuesday's workshop agenda: new school start times.
The first meeting will begin at 4 p.m. at district headquarters in Brooksville. The second is set for 7 p.m. at Springstead High School.
Superintendent Bryan Blavatt has said he will have a recommendation on both issues ready for the board's workshop the next day.
Reporter Tony Marrero can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1431.