EDITORIAL: The high cost of education

By Observer editorial August 19, 2013 11:30 am

As the summer winds down, students are sure to be feeling the end-of-summer-blues. And after their parents get back from school registration, their wallets may be feeling it, too.


Research shows how important it is for children to have extracurricular activities and to be physically active. Extracurriculars and sports make students “well rounded,” a term that becomes vital as those students apply to college or prepare to enter the workforce.

Despite their importance, sports and activities come at a price, one that may be too high for some local families. 

La Grande High School’s sports participation fee is $150 per sport. The family maximum for sports fees is $750.

The activity fee, for choir, FBLA, FFA, the musical, the play and mock trial, is $60 per activity.

These fees come on top of other fees like the mandatory supply/enrollment fee ($25), the student activity card ($30) and the parking fee ($5). 

Fees at other schools are much lower. Powder Valley has no fees, while Elgin students pay $20 per sport and Union students pay $60 per sport.

We understand funding is tight and many schools struggle to make ends meet. We also understand that education comes first.

That said, parents are already paying for public school through taxes. These added fees could be a hefty burden on families. For one child involved in a couple of sports, more than $300 is coming out of his or her parents’ wallet. Many families have two or more children in high school.

Fortunately, La Grande High does cap sports fees for families, and scholarships are available for those in sports or other activities. School officials also say they have never seen a family that was unable to pay turned away.

Unfortunately, $750 far exceeds many families’ budgets, especially when they have more pressing needs to address. No matter how much a parent may want his or her child to succeed, get a well-rounded education and stay physically active, the price may be too high.