Very few other districts in Our Fair State have such a fee, and of those that do, Washington's is one of the highest. The fee will be waived if families cannot afford it.
After receiving less state aid than anticipated for this year's budget, the school district has become the only one in Mercer County to implement a fee for students who want to try out for athletic teams and extracurricular activities.
Though the decision has sparked complaints from parents, charging a $100 fee was the only way the district could avoid a drastic increase in property taxes, said Superintendent John Szabo.
"Unfortunately we were faced with a choice," Szabo said. "We're not getting the state funding we need, and we felt it would be better to charge the people most affected than raise taxes."
An interesting point later in the article:
In Hopewell Valley, however, the school attempted a $50 athletic fee but stopped after two years because it became more trouble than it was worth, said Steve Timko, former athletic di rector.
"Having a fee was difficult be cause when every person was paying the same dollar amount, they looked for the same amount of playing time that went with it," Timko said.
How about the difference not just within an activity, but between activities? Football costs the school dramatically, but chess club barely registers on the cost scale. Parents will be less willing to participate in any fund-raises, because they've already ponied up a lot of bucks. Also, even with a waiver for lower-income families, I bet there will be kids who won't participate because of the fee, being too nervous to ask about it when there are financial troubles at home, or simply embarrassed that they need it waived.
Even with such concerns, apparently many other schools nationwide have activity fees. I hope other school districts in Central New Jersey don't jump on this bandwagon.