At last evening’s Board of Education meeting, Ken Post, the director of finance for Wilton Public Schools, presented to the board members a look at participant compliance and implementation of the participation fee program, adopted for the first time for the 2013-2014 school year. Familiarly called “pay-for-play,” the participation fee program was instituted on a sliding scale based on the school and grade level students attend.

Post said there were some operational kinks at the beginning of the year but that “given that it was our first go-round and that there were a lot of people involved, we did a pretty good job with the implementation.” In particular, Post credited two of the administrative assistants, who he said had to put in significant time developing new procedures, learning PayPal and the payment tracking system within PowerSchool as well as train the school and athletic staff.

While some had assumed fewer students than in years past would participate in activities and sports if asked to pay, Post said the opposite was true, at least for athletics. “We have higher participation in fall sports this year than we did last year,” he said.

As of Oct. 1, the district has collected $76,611 in participation fees.

Cider Mill – $8,955 has been collected v. $8,500 budgeted

Middlebrook – $6,963 has been collected v. $8,000 budgeted

Wilton High School – $60,693 has been collected v. $160,000 budgeted

Post noted that fees have been collected for only one out of three sports seasons at the high school, and that may impact any conclusions the board can draw for now. The budget of $160,000 for the high school does include two more seasons of sports, fees for which have not yet been collected.

Each school has a link to PayPal on its website, customized by school. Post said that 63-percent of families had paid by PayPal while the remaining 37-percent paid by cash or check.

As posted on Edline, the school district’s website, participations fees were instituted because during “this past budget season the Board faced potential reductions that would have impacted class size and programs. In light of this, the Board put forth an operating budget that included a provision for participation fees for all clubs and activities from grades 3 -12.  There will also be a charge for participation in high school interscholastic athletics.”

Fees are charged per student according to the following plan:

Cider Mill – A $25 annual fee per child to participate in all clubs and activities. 

Middlebrook – A $25 annual fee to participate in all clubs and activities.

Wilton High School – A $50 annual fee will permit your child to participate in all clubs and activities.  A $100 fee will be charged for participation in each sport.