By Sue Kiesewetter
FAIRFIELD - A group running a pay-to-participate program in Fairfield schools says it needs more students to pay their fees to meet its first payment on Aug. 4.
Otherwise, there may not be any fall sports if voters reject an operating levy on Aug. 3.
"We're not where we need to be,'' said Tim Crowe, a steering committee member of Promoting Activities for a Complete Education. "If we don't get enough fees paid, we won't be able to make our payments.''
After voters rejected an operating levy in March, the Fairfield Board of Education approved allowing the group to raise funds.
The group needs to raise $963,396 to reinstate all programs. The money was to be paid in four installments, based on participation each season.
The group is charging $630 per sport for high school students. Fees for middle school athletes were set at $430.
Marching band members will pay $350. Other middle school and high school activities and clubs will cost $260 per activity, per student. Students in grades 1-6 will pay a flat $20.
Crowe said fees were set assuming that at least 70 percent as many students would participate compared to last year. But when the July 17 deadline passed, only 46 percent as many students had paid fees for fall sports, marching band, clubs, music and drama. Middle school students have been especially slow to pay, Crowe said.
For fall sports and marching band, payments have reached 85 percent of last year's participation. But only 27 percent as many students have paid for non-sports activities.
The first payment of $306,231 for fall sports, marching band and cheerleading is due Aug. 4, followed by $225,935due Sept. 15 to cover drama, music and clubs for grades 1-12.
The deadline for mail payments has been extended to July 31, but the group will no longer collect money in person at schools. Payments postmarked by July 31 should be mailed to: PACE, P.O. Box 18625, Fairfield, OH 45018-0625.
If voters approve the levy, all money collected by PACE will be refunded.
"If we win, there will still be some sort of pay-to-participate fees,'' said Anne Crone, president of the Fairfield Board of Education. "I think that's the way of the future. A lot of schools are doing that.''
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