Caldwell mulls ‘pay to play’ sports fee

The Caldwell School District next month will consider implementing a fee to play sports, and one team is already soliciting donations to offset the potential costs to students. 

Currently, Caldwell students play sports for free. After a failed supplemental levy, which spurred plans for staffing cuts and a school closure, school trustees are set to vote on a $100 fee for extracurricular after-school activities. 

The “pay-to-play” fee would support transportation costs, according to a district legal notice. Trustees are also considering a 43% student body activity card increase and a 3.6% hike to the adult breakfast price. 

While trustees have yet to approve the proposed fees, one coach is asking for community support to help students who wouldn’t be able to pay. Caldwell High School cross country coach Alexis Martinez launched a GoFundMe page with a $8,500 fundraising goal. 

“Our goal as coaches is to raise enough funds to cover this fee for any students who wish to join the team so we don’t discriminate against kids who can’t afford to ‘pay to play,’” Martinez wrote on the webpage.   

Fundraising isn’t uncommon for school teams. Caldwell’s cross country team, for instance, usually sells hot dogs at a local Fourth of July celebration, and concession sales at running competitions support the team’s expenses, Martinez noted. 

Caldwell voters last month rejected a two-year, $8.2 million supplemental levy that would have covered student transportation costs and extracurricular activities, among other expenses

This month, trustees moved to close Lincoln Elementary School and authorized administrators to reduce staff and make other spending cuts. 

The cross country fundraiser isn’t associated with the district. 

“Fall sports typically do fundraising efforts this time of year,” Jessica Watts, Caldwell’s director of communications, said by email. “This particular GoFundMe page is through a booster club and not through the district.”

Sports fees also aren’t uncommon. Many Idaho districts ask students to shoulder costs associated with extracurricular activities. But patrons often push back against “pay-to-play” proposals

Caldwell’s school board is scheduled to consider the fee increase at 7 p.m. on July 8, at the district office, 1502 Fillmore St.

Click here to see a breakdown of the proposed fee increases.

Ryan Suppe

Ryan Suppe

Senior reporter Ryan Suppe covers education policy, focusing on K-12 schools. He previously reported on state politics, local government and business for newspapers in the Treasure Valley and Eastern Idaho. A Nevada native, Ryan enjoys golf, skiing and movies. Follow him on Twitter: @ryansuppe. Contact him at [email protected]

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