Athletic participation across Salem-Keizer Public Schools will have a renewed impact on families come the start of the 2023- 24 school year as the district announced the re-implementation of athletic fees.
Beginning in the fall semester, students will be responsible for a $125 fee for the first sport and $75 for a second sport, with a third sport being free. At the middle school level, the first two sports each cost $40, and the third is free.
It’s a significant drop in price from the last time the district collected athletic fees. Three years ago, first and second sports cost $175 each. Two-sport athletes, of which McNary had more than 100 in the 2022-23 school year, will pay nearly 45% less than they would have at the old rates.
Had they been responsible for athletic fees this past year, around $70,000 would have been collected from the nearly 500 McNary student-athletes. It would have been well over $100,000 at the old rates.
These fees are used to fund coaches and gameday staff, maintenance and repairs, equipment, transportation, officials, and more.
And for the past three years, the district waived the fees and subsidized them using grant funds, primarily the Student Investment Account, which is the portion of spending for K-12 approved by Oregon Legislation in the Student Success Act.
However, with current financial uncertainty about the funds, there has been a shift in their use, prioritizing direct support of student instruction and learning needs, according to SKPS Director of Community Relations and Communications Aaron Harada.
The district had been using $500,000 a year from the funds to take the place of the athletic fees. Rather than do a one-to-one reimbursement of the fees not collected, the district used a flat rate each year. Harada said that they had typically collected around $500,000 a year in athletic fees, so that’s the amount they used from the grant funds, totalling $1.5 million over the three year span.
Nationally, high school athletic fees range from $50-$150 per sport, with some costing as much as $275, according to reports.
In Oregon, there are districts collecting more than what SKPS plans. Portland Public Schools has a rate of $175 per sport, with a max of $350 per student, while Sherwood School District charges $250 per sport, maxing out at $600.
SKPS offers a reduced rate of $50 at the high school level and $20 for middle school, available for students facing financial barriers. According to Harada, families can fill out a form in the registration and payment system requesting the reduced fee, as long as the family income level matches up with the available chart.
There is no limit to the number of reductions available for students across the district.
The district also encourages students to reach out to their coaches or athletic directors if the reduced rate still prevents them from participating.