The Canal Winchester Local School District (CWLSD) Board of Education hopes to decide next month whether to place a cap on pay-to-participate fees next school year.

The Canal Winchester Local School District (CWLSD) Board of Education hopes to decide next month whether to place a cap on pay-to-participate fees next school year.

Treasurer Joyce Boyer was asked to provide the board with some calculations by its May 21 meeting to determine the potential impact a cap of $600 per student or $900 and $1,200 per family might have.

At the board's April 16 meeting, Superintendent Kimberley Miller-Smith gave a brief history lesson on the fees Canal Winchester middle school and high school students must pay in order to participate in sports and the performing arts.

Currently, students are charged $300 per athletic activity or to play in the band.

"At $300 per student, the families pay approximately 50 percent of the cost of our athletic and band programming and the board is assuming half of these expenses," she said.

Costs not covered by the fees include the salaries and benefits for the athletics director, athletics secretary and faculty managers, which are paid through the district's general fund budget.

Prior to the passage of a levy in November, the board was considering assessing families up to $600 to fully fund student participation in the activities.

Instead, the board opted to gradually phase in an elevated fee structure over a three-year period.

"The passage of the levy in November allows us to not further implement the phase-in of the increased pay-to-participate fees," Miller-Smith told the board.

As anticipated, the new fee structure did have an impact on the number of students participating in sports and band, according to the superintendent, but not as drastic as projected.

Last year, 1,043 students participated in athletics or band compared to more than 962 this year.

The district estimated there would be a 20-percent dip in the number of students in these activities this school year, but the decrease was actually about 7.8 percent.

Miller-Smith told the board it needs to consider its stance on pay-to-participate fees.

During a lengthy discussion, members weighed the possibility of

lowering the fees that middle school students pay to participate in athletics.

"I know sports are important, but for me to walk out into that public and say that I cut that teacher, but I'm going to take $100 off so your kid could play sports and not buy a book or put a teacher back - I take issue with that," board President Deborah Waites said.

"We told them (the community) up front, it would be $300 and we were not going back," she added.

After reviewing the middle school student fees, the focus of the discussion turned to placing a cap on the amount of money athletes are charged to play multiple sports. Currently, the school district has 21 students who play three sports.