Home game entry free waived for high school students

by Laura Bednar

July 19 board of education meeting

Independence Local Schools Board of Education members decided to allow Independence High School students to attend home sporting events for free for one year, starting this fall.

IHS Athletic Director Annie McGhee gave an overview of how many student, adult and family tickets are purchased, further broken down by fall, winter or all year.

In the 2021-22 school year, 34 all-year student tickets were sold for $50 apiece. Twenty-three adult all-year tickets were sold for $75 each. Twenty-one families purchased all-year passes for $225 apiece.

A ticket for a single game is $7, and McGhee said the athletic department usually has free admission for high school students at home openers.

Board member Carrie Sears advocated for free admission at all home games saying, “The kids are going to go and support their classmates.”

To enter home games for free, students would download a ticket app, save the ticket to their phones and have it scanned at games. A ticket would be valid for all home games. More details on how to claim a free ticket are forthcoming, according to McGhee.

She added that almost every school in the Ohio High School Athletic Association uses online tickets.

“I hope this encourages students to come to other sports,” said board member Joan Mencl.

According to McGhee, the average number of home games for football is five; soccer, 16; volleyball, 11; basketball, 22; and wrestling, two.

Superintendent Ben Hegedish predicts only a slight drop in ticket revenue with this initiative. Sears proposed reaching out to community members and local businesses for donations for students to attend games for free.

“We need younger families to buy passes if we want high school kids to come in for free,” McGhee said, adding that some athletic fees, including costs for officials, have increased.

Raising pay-to-play fees was discussed as a way to offset the money lost through tickets, but no action was taken. Board member Ron Bernstein said, “Is this the time to raise pay-to-play fees with other costs increasing?”

This year will be a trial run for admitting high school students for free, after which the board will evaluate its impact.

School security

Hegedish said if the district opted into Ohio House Bill 99, teachers could be armed after only 24 hours of training.

“I don’t believe that’s the right choice for our district,” he said, adding that he believes the district would benefit from armed law enforcement officers.

The district has two school resource officers, one at Independence Primary School and one at the middle and high school campus. Assistant Superintendent Tom Dreiling said both officers are willing to quickly travel to other campuses when a need arises.

Mencl suggested adding a third, part-time officer for the schools. Hegedish said any school resource officer should be part of the school community. The board adjourned to executive session to further discuss security measures. ∞