Thursday, April 8, 2004

Edgewood approves 'pay to play' plan

School board takes step to put failed levy back on ballot

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer contributor

TRENTON - A community group was given the go-ahead Wednesday to run a pay-to-participate program in the Edgewood Schools.

Edgewood Parents Activity Committee For Our Kids - E-Pack - was told to implement its plan after the school board began the process to put the same levy that failed last month on the Aug. 3 ballot.

"We don't want to deprive any of our students of the chance to participate in extracurriculars,'' said John Snyder, board president. "E-Pack has said the levy is their number one priority. Hopefully they're going to snowball through this community and gain momentum (for the levy) as they go. I hope we never have to implement their plan.''

It is the second time Edgewood parents have stepped up to run a pay-to-participate program in recent history. After a 1993 levy failure, parents were charged a participation fee. It ended after voters approved a levy the following year.

E-Pack is the second parent-led group to gain approval after extracurriculars were cut in the Franklin, Edgewood and Fairfield schools after March 2 levy defeats. Last week the Franklin Board of Education gave the Concerned Parents for the Future of Franklin Athletics permission to run a program. The Fairfield Board of Education will make its decision on a similar plan April 19.

Under the E-Pack's plan, high school students who were involved in competitive activities - sports, marching band, show choir, academic team and similar groups - would be charged $266 per activity. Middle school students would pay $113.

High school students participating in noncompetitive activities such as plays, musicals or pep band, would pay $168. Middle school students would pay $113.

No discounts would be given to students who participated in more than one activity or for families that have more than one child participating, said Lou Ann Stamper, E-Pack spokeswoman.

Athletic director and head football coach Steve Channell commended the group.

"They are a hard-working, good group of people that banded together for the good of our children,'' Channell said.

But not everyone was supportive.

"We're talking about sports. Let's get worried about how we're going to get these kids to school,'' said Lois Frasher, a former bus driver who has three foster children in the Edgewood Schools.

Two weeks ago the board approved a $1 million cost reduction package that included the elimination of high school busing and reduced busing for grades K-8.

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