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Free football for Peabody students

Peabody High football practice at Coley Lee Field. Head coach Mark Bettencourt oversees the team's stretches. (Katie Morrison)

PEABODY — It will be free Friday night lights for Peabody students when the Tanners football team takes on Danvers at Coley Lee field.

As the School Committee considers a broader proposal to eliminate admissions fees for students attending school sports and arts events, it has approved a trial period until Oct. 10 where all events are free for Peabody students. School Committee member Tom Rossignoll said eliminating the fees has been an ongoing discussion over the past year.

“This promotes school spirit and enhances attendance at events,” said Rossignoll. He said the issue has been brought up in subcommittee before, but questions were raised about the impact it would have on the athletic department budget.

Rossignoll and Mayor Edward A. Bettencourt said they are looking to get more detailed information on the impact the elimination of student admission fees would have on the athletic budget prior to the Oct. 10 School Committee meeting.

Earlier this week, the committee voted to temporarily suspend the admission fees for students until that Oct. 10 meeting. With football, basketball, and hockey the only high school sports that take money at the gate, the move will only affect a handful of football games, which have a $3 student ticket price.

While the general consensus of the School Committee is that the members would like to see free admission for students, several said they were uncomfortable making any move until seeing how it would impact the budget.

“I would love to see the kids go to the games without charge, but because the money is already in the budget, I need to know what the impact is,” said committee member Beverley Ann Griffin Dunne.

While the initial conversation was about sporting events, committee member Jarrod Hochman said he wants to see drama and musical performances added to the free admission mix.

“For some time, I have liked to see the arts treated similarly to sports,” he said. On Oct. 10, the School Committee will consider the performing arts events along with the sports ticket prices as part of the proposal.

Bettencourt said eliminating the ticket fees is a proposal he supports.

“I’ve always felt uncomfortable charging our students to go to our games,” the mayor said.

Tonight, all Peabody students who show a school ID will be able to get into the football game against the Falcons for free.

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