Free to Play! Athletic Fees Eliminated at Dearborn Schools

Once thought to be a longshot among administrators at the Dearborn Public Schools district, pay-to-play fees will not be assessed for the 2012-13 school year.

Parents of student athletes who attend high and middle school at Dearborn Public Schools facilities will get a weight off their shoulders this year with the end of the district’s pay-to-play program.

The district made a low-key announcement on its school websites that the per-student fee–which averaged about $75 per student at the schools–has been cancelled.

Spokesman Dave Mustonen said the district ended the 5-year-old fee program to make the schools' comprehensive sports programs open to students regardless of economic issues they may be facing at home.

“Our goal is to provide opportunities for all students,” he said. “Athletics and extracurricular programs provide students with a balanced learning experience and play a big role in their performance in the classroom not just on the playing field.”

Parents Making Ends Meet

Mark Shooshanian, the athletic director of , said the fees have always been a sore point for some parents.

“Many of them were affected by the economy,” he said. “Even when the amount of the fee was reduced, many parents still couldn’t afford it.”

For the 2008 to 2011 school years, athletic fees cost parents $75 for middle school students, or $100 as an athletic/activities fee. High school students paid $150 to play sports, or $200 if they participated in non-athletic activities. There was a $350 family maximum, and students who received a free or reduced lunch received a 50 percent discount on the fees.

Last year, to $50 per middle school student, and $75 for high school students.

Waivers have been available in extreme situations, such as homelessness or the death of a parent.

But although the fees were reduced, some Dearborn parents still couldn't afford the extra costs–a common issue in Dearborn Public Schools. For example, 70 percent of Dearborn students meet federal eligibility requirements to receive a free or reduced lunch, according to the district’s estimates.

Schools’ Tough Fiscal Road

But parents are the only ones hurting for funds.

DPS faces , and expenditures and costs have often outpaced revenues. For the 2012-13 school year, officials pared away $2.2 million from its $170 million budget.

Eliminating pay-to-play is estimated to result in the loss of $170,000 in fees, according to the district.

Officials are hopeful the who enjoy school sports, and opening up increased , will compensate for the gap in funding.

For his part, Shooshanian said a renewed focus on selling attendance passes and increasing advertising at the school’s athletic fields should help the district.

“I hope that we can sell the passes and the advertising,” he said. “It will open up sports to more students.”

Shooshanian added that there would be no program cuts or staffing cuts as a result of the fee cancellation.

For the schools, it remains unclear if passes and advertising can bridge the gap on what has become been a hated, but often necessary part of education locally and nationally.

What is cleare is that sports and activities add value to a student’s education, Mustonen said.

“At a time when schools are asked to graduate students who are critical thinkers and problem solvers, extracurricular activities provide students with the real life experiences that teach them to be leaders, overcome setbacks and celebrate success, work as a team, and manage their time wisely,” he said.

Zee August 20, 2012 at 02:48 PM
When you go school shopping for supplies at Target or Walmart, they have lists depending on the school available in the school supply section! I hope this helped..
Bruce August 20, 2012 at 06:37 PM
Grapenut, You should do a little more research. I'm almost positive that; If you live in the district boundaries and homeschool your children are entitled to all of the same things as the district students including sports and support services, just like DPS pays to bus parochial school in district students. You can contact the state and get the per pupil funding for you students as the district would have.
Nickel September 01, 2012 at 01:47 PM
Fay Saad, I disagree with your thoughts. Athletes play for private clubs before they ever get into school. If the parent can afford to have their child play for the Dearborn Lions or a Dearborn soccer team, then they can pay for the child to play in school. Plus when the kid plays on that team outside of school, uniforms need to be purchased. When you talk about wasting money, look at the Office of Civil rights forcing the Dearborn School District to hire a translator to communicate with non speaking English Arabs. How is this a civil rights violations? No one forced non speaking foreigners to move to the US. Adapt, but no, money is spent to keep the parents informed of the happenings in the district by printing all the english literature into arabic. Many districts have pay to play, many don't. I am glad to see Dearborn is now one of the many that don't require to pay. Also, look at the membership at the community center and HYPE, many of these members children are on free lunch, yet they can afford a membership?
cmg September 14, 2012 at 04:57 PM
@grapenut. What do you mean you're smart and homeschool your kids? Why is that so much smarter then sending them to a school w/accredited teachers, many w/master's degrees? Where they also learn much needed social skills and discipline? @nickel I paid for my kids to play recreations sports. The uniforms are included in the price. I have 2 kids, $250 every year for baseball, $300 every year for basketball...not to mention the extra clinics, cleats, spikes, mitts, bats,etc, you get the point I'm sure. I was happy for the "no pay to play" anymore as it reaches out to many other kids that can't afford it. Sure these parents have memberships to gyms, have smart phones, probably have a house in foreclosure so they can buy another one but why should the kids be punished because their parents are slackers? They should get the same advantages as the kids whose parents are smart enough to have jobs and care enough to put them first.
Nickel September 14, 2012 at 08:34 PM
@cmg, you missed the point. The article has to do with parents not being able to afford to pay. Of course, I like the fact I no longer have to pay for my children to participate, however, schools are for education and sports are an extra-curricular activity. In the article, it states if the family was on a reduced or free lunch program, they either got the fee waived or drastically reduced. Meanwhile, many still had to pay the full amount. My point was, these parents have the money to pay for their perks, like satellite television (look in the east end, practically every house has a dish), they have their gym membership, they drive their Escalades, they have provided a cell phone for everyone of their children, etc. The schools would not be the responsible party if the kid could not participate, it would be the parents fault, because their priorities are screwed up. I am sick and tired of supporting those that abuse the system. And yes, I paid for my kids to play recreation sports. Your example shows how expensive it can be. Ms Saad stated kids would be missing out on sports scholarships if not for this change in policy. My point is that a talented athlete is going to participate in recreation or traveling sports and not just participate at the school level. Unfortunately too many parents out there that shouldn't be, because a responsible parent will forego that gym membership, satellite, etc to get their kid involved if there were a pay to participate fee.


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