Pittsylvania Co. Student Athletes May See 'Pay-to Play' Fee

Pittsylvania Co., VA - Budget cuts in Pittsylvania County may keep some students from playing sports.

The school system is considering a $100 "pay-to-play" fee per sport for each student who wants to participate.

Superintendent James McDaniel says this is just a proposal and there is no reason for parents to worry, but the pay-to-play system could be adopted if the school system doesn't get the funding it needs.

Some parents aren't too happy about it.

"All students need an outlet. Sports is just a great way for them to be together and have fun, and a lot of students won't be able to play if they have to pay, " said Jean-Carol Johnston, president of the Tunstall High School Boosters.

Johnston's daughter has been a cheerleader all her life, but the proposed pay-to-play fee would have made her think twice about her daughter's beloved activity.

"If she were younger, I may not encourage her to stay in sports knowing that we would have to pay, " Johnston said.

McDaniel says nothing is set in stone.

The fee is only one idea the budget committee had for avoiding a deficit if the Board of Supervisors doesn't allocate enough funding for the coming school year.

"We look at all creative ways to generate revenue or do things we can to balance our budget. We have made no determination with regard to implementing this strategy at this time, " McDaniel said.

The Superintendent says many students already pay fees for recreational leagues throughout the county, but the committee is exploring other options as well, so those students who can't afford the fee aren't excluded.

"I'm a former coach. I know the value of students participating in activities, and that is something that the school board and the superintendent's office would have to take into consideration before we move forward with any implementation of this policy, " said McDaniel.

Johnston says if such a fee is put in place, the boosters at Tunstall High School would step in to help if any of their students can't afford to play.

McDaniel says other money-saving options they have explored include eliminating the current Career Academy and Family Life programs from county schools.