Could pay-to-play go? BoE debates

By Jonathan Delozier -

Dennis Mock

Dennis Mock

Pay-to-play rules for Wellington junior high and high school students could become stricter in the near future — or they might go away entirely.

“I truly believe there are kids out there who are limited in what sports they play by the fees,” said superintendent Dennis Mock at a May 31 meeting. “Could we cut the fees in half?

According to Mock, the district was expected to collect approximately $60,000 from Dukes pay-to-play fees this year. So far they have only brought in $23,000.

The policy either needs “more teeth” or should be scrapped, he said.

Board of education member Kevin Stump agreed that some students’ participation has been limited by finances. He also asked whether students who opt in to the program are “paying for losing,” meaning that when a team has a difficult season it can drive down the revenue it brings in to the school.

Fellow board member Lois Wulfhoop did not consider the fees as a roadblock for student-athletes.

“Boosters help out,” she said. “So do business owners in Wellington. I do not know any kids who aren’t playing a sport because they can’t afford it.”

The cost of participation for families is $150 per sport for high school students and $125 for junior high. Both levels have a maximum annual fee of $1,000 per family.

“We want to know if families can support their kids participating in more than one sport, especially if they have more than one kid playing,” said Mock. “I think it is stopping participation in some instances. Wellington has a lot of one-sport athletes. I’d much rather that they play two, three, or several if they desire.”

As far as consequences of abandoning pay-to-play, Mock thinks all sports would be safe including those that have been on the chopping block, such as track and field. The board added that a future improvement levy would most likely not cover any sports costs.

“I don’t think any sports would be in jeopardy without the fees,” he said. “You could see kids at Firelands, Black River, Keystone, or Oberlin who are struggling with paying to participate come to our district if we eliminate it.”

Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.

Dennis Mock Mock

By Jonathan Delozier