Middle school sports may get benched in Chesapeake school budget

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by Karen Hopkins, 13News

WVEC.com

Posted on February 13, 2013 at 4:55 PM

Updated Wednesday, Feb 13 at 7:01 PM

CHESAPEAKE-Larger class sizes and cutting middle school sports are being considered to help offset a $9.4 million budget shortfall in Chesapeake Schools.  

Cutting middle school sports would save $664,000, officials say.

Posts of concern were made on the WVEC 13News Facebook page.

“Our kids desperately need school sports! It forces them to maintain grade levels and keeps them active and out of trouble,” parent Karen Bissette Davis wrote.

“I think it would be helpful for the community to be aware of these upcoming decisions and have an opportunity to discuss or share their concerns,” mom Alicia Hurdle wrote.

There's less money because the state changed how it funds schools. The new formula eliminated money to pay clerical staff and maintenance workers.

In response, Superintendent James Roberts has proposed cutting middle school athletics, the behind-the-wheel driver's ed program and ten elementary teacher jobs. Additionally, 30 jobs would be lost through attrition

Robert’s proposed budget is $522.1 million, up $20.6 million.

The majority of the additional spending comes from rising health insurance costs, and 5.1 percent raises for teachers and staff.

Board member Harry Murphy estimates it costs about $300 for each child who takes part in middle school sports. He wants more data to understand that price.

“I am against cutting middle school sports and I will do whatever I can to avoid that cut,” he adds.

Davis hopes the School Board will agree with Murphy and consider keeping middle school sports.

“Why should our children be deprived of this? I'm sure if pushed, the board members can 'find' the money in the budget to keep sports in our middle schools. They sure won't get my vote again if they don't!,” she adds.

School board member Jay Leftwich says an option is pay to play or requiring parents to pay a fee. The superintendent is looking into that idea for middle and high school students.

Leftwich says another idea is finding business to sponsor teams or to make donations to pay fees for athletes who cannot afford them.

A public hearing and work session on the budget will be held Feb. 25. The School Board will vote on the budget March 11.

 

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