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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.

Concerned Taxpayer August 15, 2012 at 01:04 PM
This Seriously makes me extremely MAD! I have to pay for my daughters extra curricular activity of Dance. Sports are NOT REQUIRED for Educating Children. Sports and Clubs are EXTRA CURRICULAR Activities and as SUCH should be funded BY any PARENT that wants their CHILD to be involved in that Activity! The School district can sugar coat it any way they would like by saying that it helps children with whatever they like but in reality what this does is TAKE AWAY MONEY From the Classrooms! My Children are in the Elementary Schools. This now means that more money will be spent per Student at the High School Level then at the Elementary Level! We have Elementary School's that are FOCUS schools due to MEAP scores! I am sorry but spending more money so some kids can play a sport is absolutely RIDICULOUS when we NEED to bring test scores UP and provide an education to these children! Last year I spent A LOT of my OWN money to pay for items for my child's Classroom and will do so again this upcoming year! When a School District is also facing deficits every year and come to the Tax payers of cut something that would be used to EDUCATE a child this is WRONG to allow Kids to be involved in an EXTRA CURRICULAR ACTIVITY for FREE!
Jim August 15, 2012 at 01:58 PM
I agree with the concerned tax payer. We will have to remember this the next time there is a request for an increase in school taxes. Vote no. Education first not sports.
Concerened citizen August 15, 2012 at 01:58 PM
Whoa, did Whiston get rid of one of his 3 assistants each of whom have taxpayer paid vehicles and cell phones?
Concerened citizen August 15, 2012 at 01:59 PM
Whoa! did Whiston get rid of one of his 3 assistants each of whom have taxpayer paid vehicles and cell phones?
Donna Hay August 15, 2012 at 02:13 PM
How true your post is Concerned Taxpayer. Could this be because the high schools need more guys to join the football team????
Cruisma August 15, 2012 at 02:35 PM
Unbelevable - anyone in the Dearborn ever learn the word BUDGET??? I agree with Concerned Taxpayer, I am tired of paying for evereyone else's freebies.
City of Dearborn (Editor) August 15, 2012 at 03:31 PM
I have to say, I wasn't expecting the feedback on this change to be negative! I definitely see where you all are coming from, though. Is anyone happy about this news?
Donna Hay August 15, 2012 at 03:49 PM
Does anyone happen to have a list of the things that the students in elementary school are to bring in at the start of the school year? If so could you please post some of the 'unnecessary things" like ZipLock bags, boxes of Kleenex - thanks.
Michael D. Albano August 15, 2012 at 04:07 PM
Although academics should take priority over sports activities, combined they help create students with healthy minds and bodies. Sports also can teach them how to set and achieve goals, as well as teamwork , all of which I believe are important to youth.
grapenut August 15, 2012 at 04:26 PM
I agree both edu/sport s are needed and what you and child choose to do ,either dance or sport.. is about the only freedom in the public schools. I say discount both and I DO think they are thinking 'something ' about football ;) We homeschool and get no advantages of public school.At our choice to homeschool we are paying for all your kids and we don't use the system/can't use and are not allowed to use ..unless we forfit some freedom an put our kids in for core classes (aint happening, too smart here)
Fay Saad August 15, 2012 at 04:34 PM
I'm one relieved parent. I never understood the "pay to play." Some of the most athletic students are unable to pay the $75 or $150, and may be missing out on sports scholarships after graduation. As a parent who has been paying for her kids to play since my kids were in middle school over 10 years ago, I welcome this change ( I would have paid it if I had too), I could use that money elsewhere! I also do not mind supplying my daughters classes with kleenex, hand sanitizer and other misc. stuff that the teacher should NOT be buying. We waste money on a daily basis, so giving back to the classroom is not a big deal!
City of Dearborn (Editor) August 15, 2012 at 04:35 PM
Hi Donna - Dearborn Schools as a district actually doesn't put out "supply lists," but I'm not sure how individual schools handle that.
Fuzzy Buzzy August 15, 2012 at 04:43 PM
I agree with "Concerned Taxpayer" and her position regarding funding for 2012/2013 sport activities. I am a grand parent and funded my granddaughter's swimming class at Edsel Ford. However, now that I may save that money I have to wonder how much opportunity funding for field trips, like to the new "Free Detroit Institute of Arts" will be missed due to the $$$ diversions to sports ?
cmg August 15, 2012 at 05:15 PM
Yes I'm extremely happy, because while I had to pay for my kids sports outside of school I had to pay for them in school as well. As well as school supplies, clothing, etc, that's the price you have when you have a child. If you don't like it then I guess you shouldn't have a child. That's life.
Lyssaluv August 15, 2012 at 06:43 PM
As a parent I always want to do the best I can for my childs future. Playing a sport in school is very beneficial for a child in so many ways ,such as scholarships, social skills, requires good grades, positive occupied time, self esteem, there are so many ways. I cant see how making sure all Dearborn students have this opportunity could be a bad thing . We are raising the next generation of Dearborn residents I see this as a great change. I am very proud to be a part of the Dearborn school district where EVERY child has equality. P.S. I also send my child to school with kleenex, clorox wipes, hand sanitizer and brownies for the bake sales.
Colette Richards August 15, 2012 at 07:11 PM
quite honestly I believe this is a GREAT thing for the kids in the district. There are several who would like to play but they have no extra money to play. There are several people who have fallen on hard times, lost jobs or their homes. They are working two or three jobs just to make ends meet and provide the basics for their children. It's just one more thing these families don't have to worry about and their children can now play. Also, for those supplies that some of the schools request, every single time I was asked to bring something in, it was always followed with the comment that these were not mandatory but optional and if you could get them, great. If not, that's fine too. I've never felt pressured into buying things and if I couldn't afford them at the time, they were usually pretty accommodating towards me as well as other families.
Sonia Lipsey Warren August 15, 2012 at 07:14 PM
The following is an article taken from the May 23rd addition of the Patch, I could not paste the entire article here so it is in different parts. This gives a little more insight as to why this decision was made, and I was proud to be a part of this city when I finished reading it for the first time a few months back. There were two things everyone within the Dearborn Public Schools knew Robert Cipriano loved: helping students and running. On Wednesday, the district unveiled a plan that honors both passions of their former director of business services, who was killed in an April 16 attack at his Farmington Hills home. According to DPS, Cipriano had been working with district athletic directors to create a running program for middle and elementary school students that would encourage competition, lifelong fitness, and fun. The Robert Cipriano Memorial Cross-Country Meet, scheduled to take place Oct. 19, 2012, will accomplish just that. Set to take place at a Dearborn park during the school day, the meet–hopefully the first of what will become an annual event–will include nearly 500 students in grades four through eight. “We wanted to create an event that will honor the work that Bob did in Dearborn, help his family, and benefit a large number of Dearborn students,” said Superintendent Brian Whiston.
Sonia Lipsey Warren August 15, 2012 at 07:16 PM
Continued.......... Students will train for the event in physical education classes beginning at the start of the year and continue for six weeks. Middle school students, interested in enhancing their running skills, will have the option of joining a local running club that is offering a cross-country program. Mark Shooshanian, who serves on the Dearborn City Council and worked with Cipriano as Athletic Director of Fordson High School, said the cross-country program is a "fantastic" way to honor Cipriano. "I live in the neighborhood (near the DPS administrative offices where Cipriano worked), and I'd always see him running," Shooshanian said. "He loved to run, so this is perfect for him." Shooshanian added that Cipriano worked diligently to ensure that sports facilities and opportunities were always a part of the district's financial plan. In his lasting legacy, Cipriano's efforts will result in the end of pay-to-play sports for Dearborn students. "It was basically because of Bob," Shooshanian said. "He knew it was always about the kids." In addition to the cross-country meet, the district has committed to the creation of the Robert Cipriano Memorial Scholarship. The $500 scholarship will be awarded to one high school senior from each high school who has participated in either track, cross country, or baseball. Other details for qualifying for the scholarship will be determined by a district committee.
Carrie Thorpe August 15, 2012 at 08:05 PM
My 2nd grader is asked to bring in pencils, pens (red and blue), dry erase markers, a box of crayons, and a box of kleenex (for their desk). I definitely don't mind her having her own box of kleenex since I know that kids that age tend to wipe with their fingers a few times first and then reach into the box - yuck.... Kindergartners don't have to bring in anything.
Jean Joseph August 15, 2012 at 09:39 PM
You should be glad about the no pay to play I never had to pay no kids did not have to pay or their kids have to pay, but all the other things in the class rooms were ask to bring in, the only one who should have a right to conplain our the ones that had been paying for the last years or so when they started.to charge be glad at a positve for a change
Jean Joseph August 15, 2012 at 09:41 PM
You should be glad about the no pay to play I never had to pay my kids did not have to pay or their kids have to pay, but all the other things in the class rooms were ask to bring in, the only one who should have a right to conplain our the ones that had been paying for the last years or so when they started.to charge be glad at a positve for a change
Margaret Schaefer August 16, 2012 at 02:11 AM
Instrumental music students have to pay for possible repair of their instruments at the end of the year. How about removing this fee as well?
cmg August 16, 2012 at 04:56 PM
I too. Even when I wasn't working and we had one income I made sure my children had the necessary school supplies (donations by the way) and baked for all their bake sales.
cmg August 16, 2012 at 04:58 PM
That's hardly the same thing. They should taught to take care of the "school's" instrument or else purchase/rent their own. We were paying for kids to play sports. How is that the same thing? Maybe you should pay to have your kids play in the band. Bet you'd complain about that.
Cruisma August 17, 2012 at 01:23 PM
Maybe you are relieved but that is VERY selfish!! Now I , with no kids in school, have to pay for your kids - how fair is that??? I thought kids were in school for academics, sports are extra - pay if you want to cover buses to away games, coaches, fields ..... Again, why should I have to pay for your kids?? Isn't it enough I pay for their academic schooling? I sure hope they are now saying these free-loaders need a 3.5 gpa or no freebies!
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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