Parents and students are making a plea to a central Ohio school board to reduce and cap pay-to-play fees.

The failure of an operating levy in November 2014 forced the New Albany-Plain Local School District to eliminate funding for athletics, leading to fees of $625 per year for high school student athletes.

On Monday evening, parents and students presented a petition asking for the funding in this year’s budget. This newest effort to restore funding to the athletic program is being led by former board member and father of two Michael Klein. He said there needs to be a better approach than the high fees.

“There have been some improvements in the budget whether it be increased property tax collection or change in state funding formula which helped New Albany a little bit this year,” he said.

But the high costs are draining the bank accounts of some families. Christine Teas paid $1,875 this year for her sophomore daughter to play soccer, basketball and lacrosse.

“It’s incredibly difficult with no cap for a family,” she said.

During Monday night’s work session, the five-year forecast suggested returning some funding to athletics reducing pay to participate fees by $200 for high school and middle school students. But it faces an uphill battle from a board looking to restore other programs like gifted education and other academic needs.