Craven Co. discussing pay to play sports for high school students

NEW BERN, N.C. (WNCT) – Craven County high school students who also want to play school sports may have to start paying to play.

The Board of Education is working to find ways to make up a $3.5 million deficit.

One area parent, Alan Solter, said that sports, “Teaches them all the important stuff in life, responsibility, teamwork, most importantly.” For him and his family, sports is just something they do. “My son graduated from Furman University. He was a baseball player down there.”

And in Craven County, it’s huge.

“It’s the fabric of the community, it’s what keeps everybody together,” said Solter.

A lack of funding may jeopardize the opportunity for some to play sports.

“Projecting forward to next year, we have $2 million of federal funding that we’re not receiving,” explained Carr Ipock, Craven County Board of Education. “We looked at 20 to 25 areas we would have to make trimming cuts in order to meet the $3.5 million dollar deficit.”

To help come up with that money, athletics has to raise nearly $150 thousand and one of the options they’re discussing is pay to play.

“We were thinking in the neighborhood of $50 to a $100 per student for major sports,” said Ipock.

The idea of paying for sports doesn’t sit well with a number of parents, including Solter. He said pay to play should be a  last resort.

“There’s going to be some lower income families that won’t have the means to do that and will just choose not to play, and ultimately, it’s going to hurt some of those kids,” said Solter. “And some of them are really good athletes and they deserve a chance to play.”

If pay to play passes, the school system won’t give out waivers to families who can’t afford the fee.

Ipock said it’ll be up to the booster clubs and other resources to raise the money.

The Board of Education and school administration will meet Thursday morning to continue their discussions.

Ipock told WNCT 9 On Your Side that he’s confident something besides pay to play will be proposed in the near future.

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