by Chase Wilson ‘17
For students and families struggling financially, the extracurricular activities (ECA) fee of $32.50 may have stood as a barrier for them to participate in school sports. Montgomery County is in the process of waiving the fee to provide all students with the ability to play the sport of their choice without cost.
According to a study conducted in the 2014-15 school year by the National Federation of State High School Associations, student participation in the athletics programs increased by almost 100,000 students in just three years from around 7,700,000 in 2012 to 7,800,000 in 2015. This year at Sherwood, 880 athletes have paid the extracurricular fee. The current ECA fee is $32.50. If participation in sports continues to draw the same numbers of students, the removal of the fee would be a loss of close to $28,600 per year.
Repealing the fee should result in an increase in athletic participation, which will also sharpen and strengthen the difficulty of competition within the county. While the premise of the change seems to have no negatives, the county must find room in the budget to afford to lose out on the thousands of dollars the ECA fee provides each school year.
When contacted about the change, Montgomery County Public Schools spokesperson Derek Turner stated that the change will not have any problems getting finalized, since its main goal is to offer the opportunity of participating in sports to all students. The removal has yet to be announced or circulated to Sherwood’s school athletic director, Kathy Green.
In the 2017-18 academic year, the choice to pass up the ECA fee ideally will result in a favorable outcome; one that sees an increase in student participation, but does not impact the quality of our county’s education system or athletic programs.