First Selectman, superintendent aiming to lower 'pay to play' fees

First Selectman Timothy Herbst and Superintendent Gary Cialfi are working to lower pay-to-participate fees for Trumbull students next year, with a long-term goal of eliminating the fees entirely.

A press release from the first selectman’s office did not go into detail on a potential plan but said that during initial budget discussions, Cialfi and Herbst have focused on a mutual effort to reduce the student program fees.

Trumbull’s pay-to-participate fee for high school and middle school activities is generally $250 per season. Ice hockey is the priciest sport at $450.

“First Selectman Herbst and I have had preliminary meetings to discuss the budget for fiscal year 2015-16,” Cialfi said. “He and I are both mutually committed in this budget cycle to working collaboratively to reduce pay-to-participate fees for our student programs within the schools, with a long-term plan to eventually phase out these fees over the next few years.”

The budget the school superintendent will propose to the Board of Education will include reductions in pay-to-participate fees for athletic and fine arts programs throughout the district.

Herbst said this will be a step in the right direction.

“For the last three years, with a lot of help from Dr. Cialfi and many volunteers, we have had a charity golf classic that has raised money for student programs at Trumbull High School,” Herbst said. “A good portion of this money has been used to provide financial relief for pay-to-participate fees. This next step of reducing pay-to-participate fees in the operating budget provides financial relief to many Trumbull families while allowing our students to continue to thrive.”

Herbst praised the school superintendent for tackling this issue. He also lauded both Republicans and Democrats on the Trumbull Board of Education for what he called a nonpartisan, reform-minded approach to making the school district stronger.

“Over the last year and a half the superintendent and the Board of Education have worked collaboratively and positively on so many initiatives,” he said. “They have reformed the facilities department, the human resources department, eliminated portable classrooms and improved security at each and every one of our schools. They have also delivered realistic budgets that understand the practical constraints our taxpayers are facing. I look forward to working collaboratively with them this year to reduce pay-to-participate fees and improve classroom technology while delivering a reasonable budget.”