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District 159 OKs Pay For Play to Revive Extracurriculars

After cutting activities and sports last year, Mokena District 159 will now have sports and activities back for the remainder of the school year. Parents will pay to participate.

Let the games—and activities—begin! At a special meeting of the , board members voted unanimously to reinstate on a pay-for-play basis extracurricular sports and activities, all of which were .

Costs have yet to be determined, however.

The meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 28, at was convened after months of planning and research that dates back to June of last year.

“This was the soonest that the board felt they could come to a conclusion, [that the board] felt that they could decide,” Mokena Junior High Principal Mike Rolinitis said. “The bulk of it, I mean once we were given some direction about what we wanted to do, what they want to come up with for [this] proposal, that's really come about in the last month or so.”

During the hourlong meeting, Rolinitis outlined a plan for restarting all sports previously offered by the district for the current school year, with the exception of cross country because the season is already over.

He also outlined a plan to reintroduce several clubs and activities at each of the three schools in the district, including intramurals, yearbooks and student councils.

Because parents will be bearing the cost of sports, there will also be a new philosophy behind sports within the district. Mainly, playing time will now be given equally in all non-conference games, in conference games every participant will play in the game—although it may not be equal—and in tournaments, playing time will be decided based on which players give the team the best chance to win.

No decisions regarding pricing have been made, but Rolinitis said basketball could cost $250 per player, volleyball could be $260 per player and student council could cost $65 to $90, depending on the school.

The approved plan will be implemented immediately, although there are several policies that must be fleshed out. Policy discussion centered on students who are part of the free or reduced-price lunch program receiving vouchers for participation, costs for participation, scheduling difficulties and the possible carry over of the program for the following year. 

The district will hold a meeting for girls basketball and boys volleyball at at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 29, for all parents and students interested.  

Anna Lee September 29, 2011 at 11:11 AM
Although regrettable it has to be this way, I am in favor of the boards decision. The school experience without clubs and sports would be a hollow one. In addition to education school is about friendship and sportsmanship. I think this decision can allow for both.
N Yan September 29, 2011 at 04:01 PM
Complete agree with Shauni. Going to school is not just about the classroom, outside of the classroom plays a HUGE role in the successful development of a child whether that be student council, yearbook or soccer. It is still ashame that parents, especially in these difficult times, have to front most ot the cost because budgets aren't better managed by those creating and monitoring them. Something has got to change with the way schools are managed... not only in Mokena but other neighboring towns and the country as a whole... so the children of "the best country in the world" do not continue to suffer and lag behind.
dave September 29, 2011 at 05:27 PM
The members of the school board spent many hours to get themselves elected, maybe they should invest as much time in finding large corpate and small local companies to sponsor activities for the kids. The position on the board is for some, to help our children get the most out of thier time in school every day. Both education and becoming well rounded people ready to step into the world to become successful adults. To others it ts an entry level position into the political world. So no matter what the reason was that brought them to the table,I believe they need to do more than come up with ideas and then vote on them. They should show our children how get the job done, not just dump the money problems back on the parents of the students. The outcome will affect the future for all of us.
Karen Schultz October 03, 2011 at 12:43 AM
Most industries have taken cuts in pay, lost their jobs, had to share in benefit cuts, etc, etc, etc. In education, the children take the cuts? I know what it is to work with people who have been involved in community volunteerism and teams vs those who have not and it is a very important part of education, as well as overall healthy levels of activity. Just as art is fundamental to education, the innovation of our country and keeping business competitive within the United States. Prior to the rules of teachers living within their communities and unions, this may have been less of a problem because as the rest of the population, you lived intimately with the results. Taxes, curriculum design outcomes, results of your action, are in your neighborhood when teachers live in the community. I would like to see those approaches revisited in Mokena. Costs of the junior high should have been considered as an office space to be leased when the life cycles of communities take place.
Karen Schultz October 03, 2011 at 12:54 AM
What are the costs of the programs being cut? Details? Where re the fabulous volunteer parents this community has grown up on? I would think this can definitely be worked out with the GREAT citizens of Mokena who I believe have always been amazing as my children were growing up. There is always a great answer to any challenge. Spend your energy asking questions respectfully to create a vision everyone wants and would enjoy being the action plan to achieve.
Mad Dad October 03, 2011 at 01:53 AM
Karen and Dave, Glad you can finally join the conversation. Where exactly have you been for the past couple of years? The new board is starting to finally get things done. The idea of "pay to play" was brought up when the discussion of having to cut extra-curriculars was fist made public. The parents said they would have no problem paying a fee if their child wants to take part in an extra-curricular activity. However, the old Superintendent and old board stonewalled this idea saying that it was against ISBE rules to do so. This was later found out to not be true. Parents were also jumping out of their seats volunteering to coach or oversee the activities so they wouldn't be cut. However, the teachers put an end to that discussion ,because it is in their contract that all of these activities must be run by them. Before you start bashing the new board, maybe you should go back and read the old patch, messenger and southtown articles that were written about the dist 159 referendum and extra-curriculars. You won't believe the nonsense that came from the old superintendent and old board. This new school board is just getting started and has made some great strides so far. Keep up the good work.

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