Pickerington students seeking to play sports, march in the band or participate in other school-sponsored extra-curricular activities will pay lower fees in 2013-14.
The Pickerington Local School District Board of Education June 27 approved a reduction in participation fees -- also known as "pay-to-play" fees -- for the coming school year.
The reduction marked the first decrease in participation fees since the board set them prior to the 2011-12 school year.
At that time, the fees were increased to address rising district costs to provide extra-curricular activities.
"The district reviews the (participation) fees on an annual basis," said School Board President Cathy Olshefski. "The board approved the fee reductions at this time to offer some relief to our students and families.
"The reductions average 6 to 7 percent and mirror the increase in expected funding to the PLSD from the state of Ohio in the current biennial budget."
This school year, high school students participating in athletics will pay $350 per sport, which is down from the previous fee of $375.
Athletic fees per sport for junior high students have been reduced from $195, to $180.
High school marching band participation fees will be reduced from $200 to $185, and chorale, theatre and dance students all will see fees decreased from $150 to $140.
Likewise, participation in high school string-music programs will go from $50 to $45.
Fees for both junior high and high school clubs will remain at $25 and $35, respectively.
"As has always been the practice, the district will continue to offer fee reductions or waivers to those students (and) families who qualify as financially disadvantaged," Olshefski said.
Olshefski said the district hasn't seen a reduction in students participating in athletics and performance extracurricular activities such as band and chorale.
However, she noted club participation -- as well as the actual clubs which are offered -- varies each year.
"Other than clubs -- that can ebb and flow depending on the desire of the individual building -- the district has not changed the number or type of extra-curricular activities it offers its students," she said. "The district has not seen an overall decline in participants in extra- or co-curricular activities."
Olshefski said the expected cost increase to the district as a result of the fee adjustments is $50,000 to $55,000.
"Put another way, (participation) fees will now cover approximately 70 to 72 percent of the total district costs of extra or cocurricular activities versus 76 to 77 percent during the 2012-13 school year," she said.