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Pay-to-Play Q&A

Answers to pay-to-play questions according to the Board of Education office, website and school district employees.

Many have stated that Tolland has the most expensive athletic program in the state. Is Tolland's pay-to-play the most expensive in the state to the best of your knowledge? (With the exception of outlying sports like hockey, which often have higher fees)

According to an OLR research report released in February 2012, Tolland is one of the highest for athletic fees out of 44 school districts in the state, at the current level of $275 for varsity and JV, and $175 at the middle school.

This excludes fees that are specifically for hockey, which can cost more than $1,000 per student.

The Shelton school district charges $100-300 per sport without a family cap, according to the report.


Can you give a brief history of why athletic fees were introduced into the school district? Were they introduced to prevent teacher cuts, other program cuts, etc.?

According to the powerpoint presentation posted on the school district website, athletic program fees increased substantially after the 2009-2010 one percent budget increase resulted in the elimination of 15.4 teaching positions, as well as 4.5 paraprofessionals and 2.5 custodial positions. The 2008-2009 budget had a zero percent increase for the school budget.

Since so many questions have come up, will there be a breakdown of pay-to-play expenses available for parents and residents?

A breakdown by varsity, JV and middle school athletics for the 2011-2012 fiscal year is available on the school district's website.

Do any of the pay-to-play funds, raised either from parental fees or private fundraising, go to funding teaching positions? How are the coaches' fees paid and negotiated? Is it part of the teachers' union contract in any way?

The pay-to-play fees and private fundraising efforts do not pay for teaching positions.

Volunteer coaches may receive a stipend from a booster club, if the club decides to grant one, but that is in no way connected with the school district.

Coaches who are also school employees receive a coach's salary as defined by the teachers' contract. The salary is calculated as a percentage of the contract, which may be altered if the employee has coached the same team for more than five years.


What sort of certification is required for coaches to lead a team? 

From Athletic Director Patrick Cox:

Coaches must have a five year renewable certificate (ED 185) issued by
the Connecticut Department of Education. There is a 40 clock hour
course offered by the CIAC that meets the standard to get the
certificate, and several local colleges (ECSU, CCSU, MCC, etc) 
offer a 3 credit course that also meets the standard.
Part of the course is concussion management training which is required by law.

Coaches must also be first aid/CPR certified to maintain their certification.

Do you have a breakdown of private donations/fundraising revenue and how that was distributed? Can that be made available to the public?

An accounting of the funds raised from gate fees is available in a gate receipts report on the school district website. The "Friends of" accounts are also available online. These "Friends of" accounts are created for each sport at the school, as a place to keep money raised by student efforts, private donations, etc. However, the "Friends of" title does not imply that there is a booster club for the sport; it is simply a title for the sport's account.

At a recent pay-to-play presentation, a $41,000 discrepancy between the meeting handout and the budget request for the athletic program line item was identified. What is the reason for that discrepancy?

The $153,677 included in the 2012-2013 budget request only included the program costs of athletics (i.e. supplies, transportation, insurance, etc.). Personnel costs are categorized in a separate section of the budget layout.

The $112,358 that was discussed at the school board presentation was made up of three numbers: program costs, personnel costs (salary and benefits) as well as the application of the sports fees, therefore lowering the number. If one adds up the program numbers for varsity, JV and TMS, they add up to the $153,677. Those numbers are provided on the Athletic Program Financial Overview posted on the school district's homepage.

The district will attempt to present the budget numbers in a different format next year, to make the cost easier to read.

To clarify: do all pay-to-play funds (including fees and private donations) stay within the program, i.e. coaching fees, student transportation, uniforms, field maintenance, etc.? 

All athletics funds remain within the athletics program.

What does the potential $50 increase ($325, and $225) accomplish? Does this ensure that parents will not need to pay any extra money due to a lack of funds for a specific sport? What are parents and students gaining with the fee increase? Or is the fee increase necessary because the program is becoming more expensive? If so, why is it becoming more expensive?

The goal of the new fee numbers is to prevent the need for extra fundraising after the pay-to-play fees come in at all sports levels. This means that the school district would cover the left over costs for the middle school and JV as is currently done for varsity sports. While there have been no additions to the athletics program, expenses generally increase each year due to salary and transportation cost increases.

D May 02, 2012 at 12:23 PM
Thank you, Jayme, for trying to clarify this issue. And thank you BOE for putting the spreadsheets for this year on your website. Unfortunately, it actually makes it more confusing with 3 different accounts that are paying for a variety of expenses and showing revenue from different sources. Could someone just simply tell us for 2012-13: A) what the total anticipated costs are for the entire sports program (one number for everything - program fees, personnel, uniforms, equipment, etc), B) expected revenue from all sources other than participation fees, C) total amount in next year's budget that is planned to fund the sports programs (again, one number that includes program fees, personnel, etc that are to actually be paid out of this budget). One simple equation would help us understand how the participation fee was determined for next year . A - B - C = what is needed from participation fees. Thank you. PS Thank you to the BOE and, especially, the TC for all your hard work in putting together a budget for the town that passed on the 1st try.
Disgusted May 02, 2012 at 12:31 PM
This is patently UNTRUE. Both Chairman Powell and Vice Chair Pagoni have admitted in meetings that the increase in Pay to Play was funding personnel positions that otherwise would have been cut. Pagoni admitted on the record that Athlete's parents are being "double taxed." The above "Question-and-answer" is an attempt by the Board to cover their tracks because some parents have been attending their meetings and asking tough questions they either could not answer at the time, or provided incorrect data for at a later point- Notice the comment that " the higher fees are to prevent further fundraisng." FURTHER fundraising on top of what we already do ?? Since when ? Please, read between the lines ! The BOE has gone unchecked for a while now and without an itemized accounting of every expenditure, we really have no idea where the money is going. Don't just accept concepts and numbers they throw out- It is damage control and loaded with inconsistencies. And bottom line- They don't think Sports are important- Powell's recent comments to the press " This is the Board of Ed, Not the Board of Athletics." and " A memory of a basket isn't as important as becoming an engineer or astronaut." Is anyone sensing a theme here ?
Tolland Resident May 02, 2012 at 01:13 PM
I am disturbed by Mr. Powell's comments and the BOE's total disregard for the burden being placed on the parents of athletes. The first stated goal of the BOE is "To provide learning environments and curricula which maximize student achievement and prepare our students to become contributing members of the community and society as a whole." Mr. Powell your role is bigger than developing astronauts and engineers. There is a direct relationship between the pay to play fees and funding in the general budget. So the notion that pay to play stays in the athletic program is smoke and mirrors. Less funding for athletics means money is covering the remaining items in the budget. So yes pay to play is covering budget shortfalls. There were not any sports removed from the budget, only less money available to pay for them. Mr. Powell's other comments that based on sports being reinstated into the budget for TMS and JV some parents may pay more than they did last year when the sports were self-funded is just bad business. Bring transparency to the entire budget and make sound business decisions, please.
Lori Salina May 02, 2012 at 01:24 PM
I agree -the comments made are very concerning because unfortunately it does imply that this isn't just about funds but rather the problem is that the BOE does not feel athletics is important. I personally think of Tolland as a sports minded town - the High School Athletic Program is very successful -many athletes have gone on to play sports in college - many times to a D3 school and have received both athletic & academic scholarships. From what I know, parents are willing to pay for sports- but the amount has gone up too high- many families will not be able to afford sports next year- the amount of money needed to make the fee more manageable would NOT mean an elimination of a teacher or any changes in programs–it is a fraction of a percent of the whole budget. As a parent, I would like an education system that provides an opportunity for my children to develop as well rounded individuals – as that will give them the best chance of success in the future. How can we work with a board that is not willing to address the importance of the Athletic Program? Secondly - if you take the time to look through the reports online - it is evident the costs are being misrepresented - as an example - the costs for officials and crowd control for Varsity Basketball is $10,000 implying each home game costs $1,000. I think there may be a bit of padding in these numbers which easily can help in getting the reduction of the pay for play fees to a more reasonable number.
A Tolland resident May 02, 2012 at 03:16 PM
Neither my friends nor I have kids who are in any school sponsored sports. My friends have kids who are dancers and I have a kid who takes karate. When can we expect assistance from the Board of Ed for our kids?! These activites are equally important for our kids to be well rounded individuals as basketball etc. is for other kids. Karate runs us $90 per month times 12 months plus $30 for testing fees approx 4 times a year. My family chooses to pay for this and at this point we can afford it, but at any point that our financial situation changes, this "extra" will be the first thing that will be sacrificed. When teachers, paras, and books are in danger of being cut for ALL students, how can parents not understand the need to pay for something that concerns only a FEW students?
Darlene Abbate May 02, 2012 at 03:20 PM
Andy Powell's comment is disappointing. Some of the astronauts and engineers he referred to, that we are trying to educate, learned much of their leadership, team work and analytical skills from "making a basket.". Also, sports keep some kids motivated to do well and not everyone is going to be an engineer. I think the people of this town deserve a simple straightforward spread sheet of the facts that explain where our money is going. It is disgusting that we are one of the highest pay to play fees in CT, one of the lowest paid teachers and spendature per student with the taxes we pay and the wealth in this town. If this keeps up it won't just be the BOE that is undesirable, it will be living in this town. Darlene Abbate
Steven Johnston May 02, 2012 at 03:38 PM
You are getting a great deal on that Karate. Im at 130.00 a month for TeaKwonDo plus 150.00 every other month for testing. Lets not forget to add music lessons in at 30 dollars a week for a 25 minute lesson. Basketball is almost free in the Rec League as is Little league and there is always Pop Warner Football. The BOE doesnt have to have all these teams adding expesnse to families who would perfer not to participate. I am constanly amazed at people who want to keep the schools like they were in the 50's for sports but in the 21st century for almost everything else. Its hilarious. Just like the antiquated idea of summers off. How many kids really need to be home to work the fields in Tolland? 11 weeks on 1 week off sounds like a much more modern idea and a better way to keep kids brains working.
Darlene Abbate May 02, 2012 at 03:47 PM
The argument here is the cost is too high, not that the BOE needs to pick up the tab. This is part of an educational system, not in addition to. I am not saying dance etc are less worthy, but then why not pay for skiers, horseback riding, NEU sports etc. If you think the way you are. When you choose to do sports/activities outside of school, as we also do, you CHOOSE that. The same argument can be made for those kids who play instruments at school. Your taxes are for that too! Let's not spite the big picture.
Matt May 02, 2012 at 03:59 PM
A bit off topic here, but I would like to know how it is justified that the Tolland High School Athletic Director, can be the Rockville High School football coach? I see that as a conflict of interest.
Tolland Resident May 02, 2012 at 06:17 PM
The Tolland High School Athletic Director position is part-time. Pat Cox has mentioned he has 80 minutes a day to work on AD items.
Miss Mary Mack May 02, 2012 at 07:07 PM
@ Darlene, Tolland IS the HIGHEST pay to pay in the state. For such an "affluent" town, what do we have to show for it? Zip Zero Nada!!
C. Alexander May 02, 2012 at 09:10 PM
Mary Mack... aren't you the one who's always on here griping about taxes. I've got news for you..there is no such thing as a free lunch... you can't have low taxes and a low pay for play... please pick one and stick to griping about one, but you can't have both.. it doesn't make any sense. You should be rejoicing at the high pay for play because it means less taxes for you.
C. Alexander May 03, 2012 at 04:01 AM
I agree that the pay to play is too high...it's ridiculous. However, Andy Powell, Vice chair Pagoni , and the rest of the BOE are not the enemy. The point of Pagoni saying that the parents of athletes are "double taxed" means he knows its not the way it should be. He's the one pointing it out, so he shouldn't be slammed for it. This is the result of years of zero increase, and multiple referendums on every budget for the past many years. This is the first one that passed on the first try in a long time and there should have been more of an increase. For years people have stayed home and let the Tolland Taxpayers Association run the show. Did people think this could go on forever without it affecting programs? The pendulum is swinging and people are starting to wake up to the fact that whether or not they vote will affect them. The Tolland Taxpayers assiciation stayed home because they knew they had already won when this was the budget that had been presented. The board would have liked to get more, but they know it's not feasible in this town at this juncture. Just an observation of this town.. You could lay off ten teachers and not too many people would give two hoots about it, even though it has a very negative impact. If you increase the pay to play for sports, however, you have awoken a sleeping giant. In Avon, they parents rally to support..here...not so much. It's action vs apathy and this is the end result.
Miss Mary Mack May 03, 2012 at 12:21 PM
@ C. Alexander, what are you talking about? Step away from the kool-aid sweetheart. And for the record, we shouldn't have BOTH....HIGH taxes and HIGH pay to play. Please do the math genius.
Miss Mary Mack May 03, 2012 at 12:23 PM
And why should I be rejoicing at high pay to play? EITHER WAY I end up paying it whether it be in taxes or for my children to play a sport, so how do you figure it's less taxes being paid???? I'd love to hear the explanation for that one! At least if it were taxes, I'd be able to deduct it on my tax return :) just saying!!
Jayme Kunze May 07, 2012 at 03:01 AM
Hi, everyone! Please remember to follow the terms of use when posting. Thank you! http://tolland.patch.com/terms

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