Lacrosse is considered an emerging sport by the Illinois High School Association. And a recent vote by the St. Charles Unit District 303 school board will help it emerge a little faster.
The school board voted 6-1 this week in favor of adding lacrosse to its roster of boys and girls sports offerings.
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There are already 172 district students who play lacrosse as a club sport. The plan is to bring that activity under the umbrella of the school district to make it both more affordable to the students and hold those students to the same academic participation requirements that school-sanctioned sports have.
That also means an added expense for taxpayer dollars to fund. And the cost will go up each year as District 303 embraces the sport.
A staff memo shows the 2014-15 school year cost to add lacrosse will be $15,000. But by 2017-18, that cost will rise to $58,000.
An additional memo written by the athletic directors of both high schools indicates an ultimate cost of up to $75,000 annually. Superintendent Don Schlomann said there will be some additional costs, similar to other school sports, for staff raises.
School board member Judith McConnell was the lone "no" vote on the proposal. She said there is no need for taxpayers to take on the expense of lacrosse when it is already functioning just fine as a privately funded club sport.
Fellow board members said they expect other area high schools will also soon add lacrosse as a school sport, making it a full-fledged IHSA activity complete with state tournaments.
"Right now everyone is looking at each other and saying, 'If you do it, we'll do it,'" said school board member Ed McNally.
Lacrosse is set to debut at both high schools with varsity, junior varsity and freshman teams for boys. Girls will have varsity and junior varsity teams combining the population of the two schools.
Board member Kathy Hewell said there should be also be a freshman option for girls so both genders have the same opportunity. But Schlomann said a reason to not have a freshman girls team right now is lack of participation.
"It's a matter of interest right now in terms of what the co-op is handling over to us," Schlomann said. "If the numbers are there, clearly we would have an obligation under Title IX."