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January 24, 2014

Pay-to-play challenged


"We just wanted to see what agreements were with non-public schools," Peart said. "What we found, predominantly, was there was no charge whatsoever."

Funds for Prince of Peace athletes to co-op with Clinton are raised through the Prince of Peace booster club, Peart said. The dollars aren't taken out of families' pockets, but are generated through donations. The Catholic administrators said fixed athletic costs — like coaches salaries and travel expenses — would remain to Clinton with or without Prince of Peace athletes.

Clinton Schools Superintendent Deb Olson said in the district's responding letter that Clinton Schools have no plans to alter their policy on co-op athletes this school year. However, the district is revisiting its policy, Olson said.

If a change were to take place, it would happen during the 2014-15 school year or beyond.

Olson this week added that altering the district's policy for Prince of Peace would also mean the district would have to amend agreements it has with other area schools. She pointed to agreements with the Camanche, Northeast and Central Clinton-DeWitt districts that would have to also be examined.

"We do that with any school district that wants to have a sharing agreement with us," Olson said.

She added the pay-to-play policy does not affect junior high athletes at surrounding districts; only high school participants.

However, Olson said in her reply letter "the Clinton district has many costs associated with these opportunities for students and it is only reasonable this costing be distributed based upon the number of participants to the program and program costs."

Regardless of the inquiry, both administrators said they value the relationship they share. Peart said Prince of Peace's request came out of budget discussions her administration has had looking ahead to the next school year.

"Our kids have a great experience playing," Peart said.

Meanwhile, nothing about the inquiry should affect students' ability to continue playing in sports Prince of Peace doesn't offer.

"We have a great relationship with Prince of Peace," Olson said. "It's not with not understanding that we're all under financial constraints. The board had a different viewpoint."

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