The Arlington Public Schools (APS) Board of Directors approved the elimination of middle and high school athletic participation fees at its meeting on July 8. The board annually reviews fees that are charged to students. The fee discontinuation will start with all 2019-20 sports. The fee to participate in sports was $50 at the middle school level and $100 for high school sports.
Athletic participation fees were first instituted around 2008-09, when many districts were experiencing financial hardship with the economic recession at that time. Many districts began charging an athletic fee to avoid cuts in athletics programs. In Arlington, these fees were collected to support the cost of providing extra-curricular athletic programs, primarily to defray transportation costs.
“Since 2016-17, the district has paid for school supplies to ensure all Arlington students have access to tools necessary for learning,” said APS Superintendent Chrys Sweeting. “Eliminating the athletic participation fee is another step to remove barriers and advance equitable practices.”
“The elimination of the athletic fee is one more way the district is helping to provide opportunities for students,” said Tom Roys, Arlington High School Athletic Director. “Participating in sports has been shown to help students do better in school. A 2014 study from the University of Kansas showed that students who participated in high school sports had higher percentages of days of school attended, graduation rates, and assessment scores and lower dropout rates.”
The district plans to infuse its extra-curricular spending allocations with additional funding support from its General Fund, in lieu of charging students for athletic participation fees.