- Should parents have to pay the full cost for students' activities?
What would happen if the pay-for-play option became a reality for students in Clay County?
The Clay Community School Corporation had a combined ECA Wage Budget of $362,066.96 as of December 2004.
Elimination of ECAs as an expense to the school corporation would put all these funds back into the General Fund.
Leaving the school board to find only $637,933.10 in budget cuts from other wages and benefits from administrative, janitorial, bus drivers and teachers.
The cost of wages for continuing ECA activities would become the burden of parents who want their children to participate in an academic, band or sport activity at school.
As the Indiana State Legislature struggles this year to balance its budget, school corporations throughout the state, seeing their dollars shrink, are considering pay-for-play options regarding extra-curricular activities (ECAs) for the coming school year.
This growing national trend towards pay-for-play ECAs by financially strapped school boards appears to be materializing locally as a topic in the debate about local school budget cuts.
Most objections about pay-for-play ECAs occur because the expense of operating a program would be passed on to the students and their families.
Many families fighting the same financial troubles as school corporations are unable to afford the extra cost of paying for their children's activities at school. This creates a lack of participation that leads to the loss of activities available to students.
Activities that, once eliminated, may never find their way back from the abyss, no matter how beneficial to the students.
"Some students don't receive exposure to these activities unless the opportunity is made available for them at school," said Gail Williams, Principal at Van Buren Elementary.
While paying fees to participate in high-cost activities like sports and band programs have received the most attention nationally, other low-cost programs come under the knife when school boards eliminate funding of ECAs.
The ability to spark imagination and develop social skills with tutoring programs that create self confidence in younger students are lost with across-the-board cuts in ECA funding.
The elimination of elementary ECA budgets takes away the early advantage of participation in academic and/or sport programs and the benefits they might have on those student's development.
At the secondary level, where the costs are even greater, financially strapped families forced to pay high fees for one or more activity could eliminate ECA participation completely.