Middle school sports may be down, but some parents are hoping they're not out.
A Fort Mill mother opposed to a recently announced plan to close the Fort Mill School District's budget gap by cutting funding for middle school sports told the school board she's been working with other parents on an alternative.
“This program would involve making many of the same changes that are being made by the Fort Mill School Board at the high school level, including paying to play and cuts in the paid coaching staffs,” Lisa McCarley told the board at a meeting Monday night.
“To ensure stability year after year, our proposal would be structured around hiring a part-time athletic director that would serve for all (middle) schools and hiring head coaches for all sports and one assistant coach for football.”
An audience of nearly 100 people turned out for the meeting at Gold Hill Elementary School.
“Like many other parents, teachers and students, the price of cutting these programs is very significant,” McCarley said. “While the cuts possibly could have saved a few positions within the district, this (middle school sports) is just a small piece of the overall budget. There are many who feel like we can make a difference in this area and want to be part of the solution to keep this valuable program.”
McCarley said she spoke on behalf of a group that is to be created specifically to represent each of the district's middle schools' athletic booster clubs.
“We have a proposal to continue the current middle school sports program, being operated by the booster clubs and a newly formed Fort Mill School District Athletic Board,” she said.
The proposed board would have 11 members, picking up three more once Banks Trail Middle School opens, McCarley said. The board has not officially formed yet, pending non-profit status.
“Middle school sports would become pay to play,” McCarley said after the meeting. “A fee has yet to be determined.”
Earlier this month, the Fort Mill school board took action on several recommended cuts to make up for anticipated shortfalls in the 2010-2011 budget. Those approved cuts included 47 positions, MAP testing, and the elimination of an elementary level assistant principal and three district office employees.
District officials said eliminating the budget for middle school sports will help the district save $190,686. Officials have also said they are not opposed to keeping sports at the district's three middle schools as long as they can find an alternative source of funding.
For more, see the March 24 print edition of the Fort Mill Times.