Beginning next year, Edison Local High School students who want to play football will have to pay $250 fees. Playing in the band will cost $125. Singing in the choir will require a $70 payment.
School district officials approved a "pay to play" fee schedule this week because they had no choice. A $1.5 million budget gap must be closed. In March, Edison Local voters rejected a tax levy to provide more operating money for schools.
It's a shame. It really is. Extracurricular activities such as sports and the arts teach valuable skills and life lessons. The fee plan will exclude many youngsters from participating. For a student from a low-income family, $250 may be unobtainable, even by scrimping and saving.
Again, school officials had no realistic choice. The top priority of public schools needs to be basic academics. Athletics and the arts must take a back seat when severe funding crunches such as that faced at Edison Local require choices to be made.
School officials should continue to look for ways to trim spending. If at all possible, the fees should be adjusted or eliminated. But in setting spending priorities as they did, board of education members were correct.