Pay To Play Fees Considered By Pitt County School Leaders

By: April Davis
By: April Davis

As school officials across the state are facing some major cuts, they are looking at ways to make money and try to save programs.

In Pitt County, some school officials have proposed charging student athletes a fee every year to play sport - something they have never done before.

Pitt County School officials are proposing a $20 a year per student athlete fee.

Life is a slam dunk for Brandon Smith when he's on the basketball court. Basketball is his passion. Until now, Smith and his South Central teammates have played high school basketball for free, but the sport he loves may soon come with a price.

"These ideas are flowing from a lot of places. School boards are in a tough time, all costs are going up. Transportation, everything is rising and people are looking for ways to make more money," said Ron Butler with Pitt County Schools Athletics.

The $20 per athlete fee would go toward transportation costs and supplemental insurance. It's a fee students aren't used to paying, and many say they don't want to.

"It's hard nowadays going through a recession and all that stuff so I don't think it's a good idea," said rising senior Brandon Smith.

"I don't see why athletes should have to pay to play," said basketball coach Chris Cherry.

Cherry says he's worried the fee might deter students from playing sports.

"Athletics is some of these kids avenue for staying in school. It keeps them busy throughout the afternoon and keeps them off the streets and out of some unfortunate situations," said Cherry.

Cherry says it's a place where they learn hard work and those values transfer over to the classroom.

Some parents in Pitt county say they understand times are tough and they would be willing to pay up.

"I think $20 is pretty reasonable for something like that," said parent Rosy Donnenwirth.

There would not be an extra charge if a student played more than one sport. The additional fee has not yet been determined.

The Pitt County Board of Education's finance committee will hold a public meeting June 23rd to discuss the idea.

According to school officials, if the fee goes into place there would be some waivers for situations such as students on free or reduced lunch possibly not paying the fee.

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