Byline: Jan Gottesman
CLINTON - Got an extra $38,000 to spare? That's what it will cost to restore all junior varsity and middle school sports.
This summer, after the defeat of a Proposition 21/2 override, the school department cut all junior varsity and middle school sports. A few weeks ago, a group of benefactors helped restore junior varsity football. Tuesday night, the School Committee challenged the two new co-athletic directors to come up with a figure of what it would take to restore some or all of the rest of the sports, taking into consideration income brought in by athletic fees, the possibility of raising athletic fees and gate receipts.
Susan Notaro and Tony Gannon took over as athletic directors this summer, replacing 22-year Athletic Director John Gibbons, who retired. They said it would take about $38,000 to replace middle school and junior varsity field hockey, boys and girls soccer, boys and girls basketball, baseball, softball and boys and girls track, as well as middle school football. That figure includes transportation based on the number of away games, officials and coaches' salaries. School Committee Chairman Tena Zapantis asked Notaro and Gannon what it would take to not only restore the sports, but make the sports program self-sufficient, in the same way the food service program is self-sufficient.
Gannon said 70 percent of Clinton High School students play sports; 125 students in the seventh- and eighth-grades play sports.
Gannon said their research showed that "Clinton's user fees are the least expensive of any schools in the area."
The user fee for athletes in Clinton is $125, with family caps and reductions for students who receive reduced-priced lunch due to their families' incomes. Students who pay nothing for school lunches pay no user fee.
Tahanto students pay $225; West Boylston pays $225; Wachusett $200 and Tyngsboro, which is new to Clinton's athletic division, pays $400 per student, according to the athletic directors' research.
Other schools require students who qualify for the free lunch program to pay something for an athletic fee, even if it is $25 to $50. "It is easier to get the students to stay with the sports because they are invested," Gannon said. "We understand this is a blue-collar community," Notaro said, adding, "The family cap is too low." The family cap is $400 maximum per family per building.
"It sounds like we should be re-evaluating free and reduced lunch sports fee, even if we start...