When Andrew Walters took over as athletic director at Harvard Community Unit School District 50 last month, he made it clear his goal was to increase participation across all athletics and activities.
This summer Harvard took a major step toward doing so. The District 50 board of education voted in May to lower athletic and activity fees for the 2018-19 school year.
High school athletic and music fees dropped from $125 to $75. Junior high fees dropped from $60 to $40. Additionally, any current District 50 students may now attend regular season athletic events for free.
“That was one of the first things I looked at when I was interviewing for this job: What are we charging?” Walters said. “Now, we’re going to have $75 for two sports, and the third sport – if they’re a three-sport athlete – is free.”
District 50 serves more than 2,700 students from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. Some clubs, such as National Honor Society, will be free.
“I just think it’s a big thing to not have to worry about finances to have your kid playing or participating in a school environment,” Walters said.
Walters said athletic fees go toward the general athletic fund. Superintendent Corey Tafoya pointed toward data and research that indicates activities and athletics lead to higher achievement in the classroom.
“I’m proud of our board of education and district,” Tafoya said in a statement released by District 50. “The change allows more students to participate in our co-curricular and athletic programs and gain the valuable experiences that we know these opportunities provide.”