Increased pay-to-play fees could finance the return of random drug testing for student athletes in the Olentangy Local School District.

Increased pay-to-play fees could finance the return of random drug testing for student athletes in the Olentangy Local School District.

Executive Director of Secondary Learning Mark Raiff said increasing fees for students who play sports would pave the way for the return of drug-testing, which was eliminated last spring as a cost-cutting measure.

Raiff proposed eliminating the district's multisport discount and family maximum at a May 10 meeting of the school board.

Students currently pay $75 for the first sport they play, $25 for the second and nothing for the third.

The district also has a maximum charge of $200 in fees per family to provide some relief for families with several multisport athletes.

Under the new plan, students would pay $75 for each sport they play and would not get discounts for second and third sports.

The family maximum would be eliminated entirely.

The school board was scheduled to vote on the plan at its meeting Thursday, May 24.

Raiff said the recommendations come after discussions with coaches and athletic booster groups.

"My sense, based on the feedback we've gotten, is that bringing back drug testing is something that the athletic world values," he said.

The $75-per-sport fee is below the average compared with other districts in the Ohio Capital Conference sports division, where the average fee is $118.

Sixteen schools in the conference have no family maximum for sports fees, Raiff said.

But board member Stacy Dunbar said the plan might impose unfair expenses on families with multiple athletes.

"You don't want a situation where you have three kids and you can only afford for two to do sports," she said. "I think the individual fee is reasonable, but my concern is getting rid of the family maximum."

The district currently has 860 two-sport athletes and 340 three-sport athletes.

Raiff did not have data on how many of those come from multiple-athlete families.

The district also is considering introducing drug screening for students who participate in nonathletic extracurricular activities such as band and theater.

Students who drive to school are another target group under consideration, Raiff said.

Drug testing was eliminated in April 2011 as a cost-cutting measure to save about $180,000 annually, just weeks before voters approved a 7.9-mill levy.

Previously, 10 percent to 15 percent of Olentangy student athletes were subjected to random drug screenings each week, and students could have their names drawn multiple weeks in a row.

In the past decade, students have tested positive for drug use about 1 percent of the time, according to district athletic directors.

Officials have said the tests are an effective deterrent.