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Who's paying the price? Who's paying the price?
by John Pederson
Issue 5
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No matter the score, you can count on fans at West High School to support their Lions. They’ll brave any conditions cheer on student athletes - even multi-million dollar budget deficits.

Wisconsin’s Madison Metropolitan School Board raised participation and admission fees last year to make up for a ten million dollar budget gap. Parents rallied against the measures until board members repealed them in a special meeting earlier this year. But with an even larger deficit projected for next year; it’s clear this debate will go into overtime.

Board member Ruth Robarts felt the rollbacks appease outspoken parents but are not a long term solution. Athletic Director Chris Nelson acknowledged this aspect of the decision, “No one expects this to solve the problem, but, in the end, sports sell papers.”

This debate has received more press lately than prep sports. The Wisconsin State Journal criticized the board’s decision but sympathized with district parents who still pay the highest fees in the conference. Nelson feels both sides may have lost yardage on the play, “It’s clearly not a move that moved us any closer to a solution, but something had to go.”

The board will use a reserve fund to cover the decreased revenues earned from last year’s fees. The move will cut the money available to hire new teachers in half. This will likely spur a new debate considering the increasing rate of enrollment in area high schools. The board appointed a special committee to tackle these issues.

The group will study the district’s athletic programming and administration over the next four months and present their findings later this summer for next year’s budget face off.

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