The Cost Of High School Athletic Programs


Sustainability of the athletic program for Payson High School was the prime concern of the Payson School District Governing Board in the spring of 2010 when they reluctantly voted to implement sports fees and to use Credit For Kids to fund all athletic programs.

The intent was certainly not to require coaches to raise funds to pay their own salaries. As a parent and as an administrator, I fully support all extracurricular and co-curricular programs, as I have experienced first hand the impact these programs have on student success. Athletics are the hook connecting many students to school in a positive passionate manner, as well as impacting the need for student academic achievement and positive behavior choices.

Continuation of a quality PHS athletic program is critical.

The imposed decline in state funding by the Arizona State Legislature, as well as a decline in enrollment due to the economy, resulted in the loss of substantial funding to the district budget. Support for maintaining high quality academic programs as well as quality extracurricular programs presented a budgetary challenge. Keeping budgetary cuts away from the classroom and class sizes as small as possible, meant finding a solution that would support a self-sustaining extracurricular athletic program.

After looking at cost factors and program needs, the governing board voted to use Credit For Kids tax credit and to implement the current sports fee plan. Sports fees cover the costs of maintaining a quality sports program to include the costs of: coaches, equipment, officials, and awards. All transportation costs for athletics continues to be paid through the PUSD Maintenance and Operations budget.

The Payson High School sports fees include an individual fee or family total annual fee, as well as scholarship assistance for those with financial hardship. Current fees are: $200 individual fee for the first sport; $50 individual fee for the second sport, with no individual fee for the third sport; and a total individual fee annually of $250. The total family annual sports fee is $400.

The most important factor is making it possible for all students to participate in athletics, and providing everyone the opportunity regardless of financial circumstances.

A total of $6,500 has been awarded in scholarships for the 2011-2012 school year for students. Scholarship assistance is available for parents through an application process. Individual fees for the first sport are $50 with a total individual annual sports fee of $100; and under our scholarship program, a family total annual sports fee of $200.

In addition, we have a payment plan process in place to assist parents with fee payment over time instead of all in a lump sum.

Sports fees are not specific to an individual sport, but rather are applied towards the cost of the entire athletic program, as students are not charged $200 per sport. Annual average cost factors include: $84,000 in coaches’ salaries for (12 sports for girls/boys), $15,000 for officials, another $8,500 for event workers, and $8,500 for individual team tournaments in their divisions. Additional costs annually include: $33,000 for equipment, reconditioning of equipment, awards, rule books, AIA dues, banners, and paint. Total costs for athletics for the 2010-2011 school year was $162,000, not including a substantial cost for transportation.

The 2010-2011, sports fee income totaled $49,035. Credit For Kids averages $25,000 a year for athletics, but is distributed by designated sport, so cannot be used as a lump sum to apply to all coaches’ salaries. Gates income, which cannot be used for salaries, totaled $26,046. Fortunately, additional donations to programs can also be applied to annual costs listed including salaries.

These cost factors were shared with coaches at a meeting on Dec. 7, 2011. The purpose was to show how funding was applied, costs and the need to be extremely conservative with purchase requests for funds especially Credit For Kids funding. Coaches were asked to promote their programs in the community and to seek Credit For Kids funding which is used along with sports fees and donations to pay coaches’ salaries. Coaches have been paid using these funds for the past two years.

The challenge is maintaining a quality program within the current budgetary restraints. Working in partnership with coaches, parents and the community we will continue to provide sustainability for PHS athletic programs.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Requires free registration

Posting comments requires a free account and verification.