NEW MILFORD — School athletes will now have to pay $125 to play each sport, with a $500 cap for each family.

Adding pay to play was the most contentious item included in the list of changes proposed by Superintendent of Schools Joshua Smith to close the $1.26 million gap between the $64.3 million budget the board adopted in January and the $63 million budget voters approved this week.

The adopted budget is $200,000 more than the current year.

Board members Angela Chastain, Wendy Faulenbach and Joseph Failla opposed the budget changes, saying it put too much burden on the high school families and students, instead of looking at other areas to cut. Pay to play, coupled with advanced placement exams and the increase in parking fees for students from $150 to $225 could leave families with hundreds of dollars in additional expenses, they said. Failla said the changes also unfairly targeted athletes.

“We’re trying to balance our budget here on the backs of our children here, and that’s just wrong,” Failla said.

Smith suggested pay-to-play because parents told school officials they would support that option over cutting a sport. He said scholarships are available for those who can’t afford the fees and schools can’t add fees to programs connected to courses, such as band and drama,

The trio suggested a few other cuts instead, including reducing $110,000 for an administrator at Sarah Noble Intermediate School, not filling two open academic coaches and $35,000 for social and emotional learning for students in K-2. All of these suggestions failed.

Other board members said the administrator was needed to meet the district’s obligation to its students with special needs, the academic coaches helped teachers implement new curriculum and work with their students, and the social and emotional learning addresses problems at the younger grades to prevent behavioral problems throughout a student’s career.

The 30 approved cuts made by the board Thursday were broken down into four categories based on risk and the impacts they would have to the programs and departments.

Among them, are eliminating 10 positions, including three para educators, a library clerk, a technician, a kindergarten teacher at Hill and Plain School, a maintenance worker, a social studies teacher, a math teacher and 1.5 special education teachers.

All but the kindergarten position are vacant. Smith said he believes based on openings in the district that personnel can be moved and no one will be laid off.

Some of the other items include $150,000 in savings with the bus contract and eliminating a bus, delaying $150,000 in purchasing some supplies and small capital items at all of the schools, and about $71,000 in holding off on replacing textbooks.

Several board members said these cuts will have minimal impact on academics.

“I really appreciate the effort to not just slash and burn,” board member Bill Dahl said.