Kindergarten vs. sports costs

This is an interesting dichotomy:

On one hand, the majority of members of the Milford School Board rejected the idea of a "pay to play" plan for school sports, ba­sically because they fear some kids would not be able to participate because their parents couldn’t afford the fees.

But on the other hand, the very same board is considering a full-day kindergar­ten program with an annual tuition cost of $3,602, apparently believing that most parents would be able to afford that fee.

Certainly, they are looking at the idea of scholarships or some sort of tuition aid, but still … wouldn’t they do the same for a fee-based school athletic program?

What’s the qualitative difference in af­fordability? How is asking someone to pay for kindergarten, which is generally considered of great benefit to every child who attends, different from asking some­one to help defray the costs of school ath­letic programs, which certainly benefit many athletes.

But are those benefits the same as an initial year of education? We don’t pre­tend to know, but we don’t understand why the School Board is discussing the question of people’s ability to pay for one and not the other.

These should not be separate discus­sions. If money is the issue in pay to play, then money is the issue in kindergarten, scholarships or not, because the same fi­nancial aid could be available in the case of sports.

What are we missing here?

Marc Maurais, Milford High School’s athletic director, called the issue of athletic fees "a moral issue" and said the lack of fees is one of the things that "makes Milford special."

OK, fine.

But Superintendent of Schools Robert Marquis indicated he believes kindergar­ten fees are also a moral issue. Wouldn’t the absence of such fees help to make Milford an even more special place?

True, the cost of kindergarten would then be passed on to taxpayers, just as the cost of school athletic programs is. What’s the difference? Is it that sport programs have ardent proponents among parents and kindergarten doesn’t? Or that there are more kids involved in sports, thus more ardent parents, than there are kids who might attend kindergarten?

If Mont Vernon and Amherst can have all-day kindergarten without tuition, why can’t Milford?

We aren’t looking to heap additional taxes on the people of Milford. As School Board member Bob Willette remarked in his dissent from the rejection of pay to play, people on fixed incomes, like him, are already hit hard with taxes. No one wants to see them hit harder.

But something just doesn’t add up here: Pay to play is bad, but kindergarten tu­ition is good? Poor sports parents can’t afford fees for athletics, but kindergarten parents can afford to pay to send their kids to school to begin learning early? Two and two make what?

Let us suppose that a parent who had difficulty meeting the $3,602 tuition for kindergarten was given a 50 percent scholarship, which is pretty good. That’s still $1,801, and there are still parents who couldn’t afford that. What then?

This has always been a very sports-minded newspaper, but is football really more im­portant than kindergarten? Suppose the parents of a player were charged $150 for him to play for the season. Compare that to $3,602 for the kindergarten parent.

Sure, the argument is that many ath­letes are three-season participants. OK, that’s $450 for the year. It still isn’t $3,602.

Perhaps we are merely obtuse and can’t see the economics for the financials, but it just doesn’t seem to add up.