“Pay to play” in the East Bay?

pay to playCalifornia’s public schools can’t legally require students to pay for uniforms, transportation or other costs of extracurricular activities, but some do anyway.

Last week, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported that some schools in San Diego Unified were asking students to pay for uniforms and other expenses associated with extracurricular activities, even though the California Supreme Court ruled in 1984 that the practice violates state law.

The ACLU is also conducting a probe of other California schools that might require kids to pay for medical examinations, gear, Advanced Placement examinations, coaches and other expenses, according to California Watch.

The high school district in Brentwood (Contra Costa County) charges students for some activities, but it might revise its policies in light of the San Diego situation, Bay Area News Group reporter Rowena Coetsee learned. Oakland Unified Spokesman Troy Flint said there is no districtwide policy of the kind, but he couldn’t guarantee that none of OUSD’s schools did so.

Do they? What other East Bay schools require students to pay at least something to participate in extracurriculars?

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • anon

    Some schools have a “fundraising” requirement. Some schools require kids to write letters to their relatives asking for money (I know Berkeley High LAX did this because I got a letter from them)

  • Nextset

    The obvious solution is to discontinue these projects unless and until PTA or Corporate Sponsors raise the funds to continue them. The schools are going to have to pick and choose what programs they can afford. If the football program doesn’t bring in revenue to fit it in the budget, you drop football. Ditto every other “extra” program.

    During a period of economic depression we have to expect discontinuance of some school programs. More important that they meet payroll for the employees and programs that are left.

  • berkeleymom

    Fundraising is not illegal under the law. And yes, at Berkeley High School, several sports use the direct appeal letter. But they aren’t required to raise a specific amount and no one is required to pay a fee to play an interscholastic sport.

    The Berkeley High Athletic Fund does a tremendous amount of fundraising and works with the Berkeley High Development Group to keep the sports program alive. Freshman sports at Berkeley High were in jeopardy for 2010-11 and BHDG stepped forward with $19,000 to keep it going this year.

  • DanvilleDad

    I understand pay to play if the choice is to have it or not. However, has anyone done an audit on County Taxes (Contra Costa) to determine how much is actually going to the schools? The San Ramon School District has a so called “Learning Fund” which money from parents (albeit tax deductible) goes towards additional programs at the school. Additionally, each year, there is now a list of school supplies that families must come up with which usually runs about $100+. I’d be interested in understanding what happened to tax dollars that are supposed to fund the whole school. And no one should quote the economy since this has been going on pre-housing bust.


    Manteca Unified School District also charges for transportation, sports, uniforms and other miscellaneous things for school. Which is hard for parents to keep our kids on the right track and in activities.

  • AHighschoolCoach

    I am a coach in the East Bay and I have a hard time with the “pay to play” , but let me break down why our school district has this policy. The “pay to play” fee has been put into place for coaches( at least in our district). The coaches in our school district do not receive a stipend from the school district. Coaches will not be paid if there wasn’t a fee. ( if you have any idea what coaches make , it isn’t much so anything helps). Our fee is broken down to pay coaches, Athletic Director, and a scholarship fund for students that cannot afford to pay the fee. As a high school athlete, we took for granted such things as coaches, buses, and anything else that came along with playing a high school sport. The state wide budget cuts have taken a toll on all schools and all deptartments for several years. Teachers are the hardest hit because majority of teachers I know come out of pocket for supplies. In my program , I have found several ways to fundraise to ensure that those players that participate in my sport will only have to write one check. I make sure that the players and I fundraise for shoes, sweats, bags, uniforms, etc. Now I am lucky where I am , but I know it is very difficult to fundraise if the community is financially strapped.

    Now you are thinking that for the families that can afford to pay this fee are actually helping those that cannot– yes they are. 10% of the actual fee is put into a scholarship fund to help those less fortunate to play a sport. How do we fix that , I do not know. I hope that gives you a somewhat better understanding.Is it the best solution , I don’t know, but until things change this is what we have to work with.

  • Hot R

    What are you all thinking?

    Fundraising is a fact of life in education, and has been for some time. Boosters clubs have golf tournaments, raffles, auctions, “thons” and benefits.
    Cheerleaders raise money for uniforms with car washes, Seniors raise money for Senior picnic, cruise and prom with dances, candy sales, valentine grams, and auctions. Each class raises money with candy sales, food sales, dances, and wrapping paper fundraisers. Advanced Placement classes raise money by selling T-shirts, coffee, fundraisers at local restaurants, and performances and art classes sell xmas cards and student art work. The Band sells cookie dough and recordings of its music. DECA has XBox tournaments.

    Without these things there would be no new equipment, fieldtrips, scholarships for needy students, extra coaches, curriculum materials, supplies, software, and a myriad of other things. The list is endless. When these things don’t raise enough they just ask for straight out donations. Students will pay for their own fieldtrips and museum admission.

    The reality of public education is that fundraising is CONSTANT. Schools should charge for sports as they are the single biggest expense in the budget other than academics, but at the same time give scholarships for those in need. The bottom line is that we have to redefine the “public” in public education. How hypocritical that the powers that be have let the system collapse and are then “shocked” to find out that schools are charging for activities.

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  • Rex

    With the budget crunch in the Bay Area, most Bay Area High Schools will soon have to ‘Pay-to-Play.’

    The transportation is the biggest issue.

    Either teams have to ‘Pay-to-Play’ or schools will have to cut sports.

    Which do people want?

  • http://none Mick Fishner

    Katy Murphy is barking up the wrong tree. Pay to play is the correct manner to proceed with high school sports, otherwise high school sports will whither away, and private companies will own the market. This is already the case in basketball with AAU. Pay to play is the most efficient and economic manner to handle high school sport participation.

  • http://www.BigEventFundraising.com Clay Boggess

    I am not opposed to ‘pay to play’ for extracurricular sports as long as it can be shown that the money is actually going to the specified activity. Hey, we pay when we sign our kids up for sports leagues why not school sports as well?

  • Mom that is paying

    I have paid for the last 4 years matter of fact we are raising $250 to play this year. And that is just one sport. What happens to a child that can’t afford the program? I understand that schools are strapped but so are parents. I was surprised to find out that this was illegal based on a 1984 supreme court ruling.

  • maryann oneil

    Public high school in Tracy makes parents pay for the bus to pick up their student

  • Hills Parent 13

    There should be more play to play options! Sports aren’t mandatory and those that play should either contribute toward or foot the bill for the costs involved. I’d rather see money going toward academics in our schools rather than extra-curricular or enrichment classes. Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for the extras too but I believe that those who participate in them should pay for them!

    For those kids who can’t afford to, hopefully there is a scholarship fund. Otherwise, it might be a sad reality that they might not be able to participate in some things. That’s life, unfortunately, and nearly everyone has been in a situation, generally speaking, where they haven’t been able to do something because they couldn’t afford it.

    As for bus service, again, parents should have to at least contribute toward that cost as well.

  • berkeleymom

    “Public high school in Tracy makes parents pay for the bus to pick up their student”

    This is legal to do so. Not in the same legal category as pay for play, etc.

  • krista866

    I notice one post suggests the PTA pay for sports. As a member of the PTA, I am a huge supporter of sports, music and arts in school. Unfortunately there seems to be a misunderstanding regarding PTA and funding. The mission of PTA is not a fundraising organization. P is for Parents, T is for teachers and A is for association so the main purpose is to have parents and teachers work together \
    To promote the welfare of the children and youth in home, school, community, and place of worship.
    To raise the standards of home life.
    To secure adequate laws for the care and protection of children and youth.
    To bring into closer relation the home and the school, that parents and teachers may cooperate intelligently in the education of children and youth.
    To develop between educators and the general public such united efforts as will secure for all children and youth the highest advantages in physical, mental, social, and spiritual education.

    So simply stated, PTA can and is an integral part of advocating for sports and persuing legislation that can pressure the state legislators of CA to pass a budget that ensures the education and sports and music and art programs are adequately funded.
    Remember, PTA is not a fundraising organization, but some school PTAs have gone that route to help schools, although they should not. The state should be doing that!

  • Phil Martin

    I’n our city you are charged between 450 and 500 dollars to play a sport. I want to get the facts on this. The AD did not say this was voluntary, but did not use the word manitory either. I had an issues with my son during the football season where he was told, you can not be on the field till you have your money I’n.
    I was not very happy that this was put on a 13 year old. I have no issue with helping out the school or paying. I just do not believe that a kid should be excluded due to money at a public school. I read the law and it states that no coach or AD would know if you had or had not paid. I guess so they wouldn’t hold it against the player.
    Bottom line what is or isn’t the law???