School boards and local taxpayers will be struggling this year. They will be coping with state mandates raising their contribution to teacher and administrator retirement, and to cover the costs of students who go to charter schools.

My district will ask local taxpayers to accept a considerable increase when the budget goes to voters this year.

In this context, I think it is important to be clear about what programs are being funded, and their true price tag. While my district has line items for athletics in the proposed 2014 budget, I believe the hidden costs of administrator and secretary time, custodians, groundskeeping and other operating expenses make the price tag of high school and middle schools sports around $357,000.

How many students participate in school sports programs? Definitely less than half, and possibly only about 25 percent.

Our schools are judged by how well students can read, write and do math. I think we should make a distinction between expenses for educational programs and expenses for student athletes to compete in sports.

I’m not sure when it became the responsibility of local taxpayers to fund sports. Our high school used to be on a pay-to-play basis some years ago. I think we should consider returning to that idea, and let the boosters raise money for students who can’t afford to pay.

Mark Roman

Solon

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