By Jordan Cohen
Members of Mathews Board of Education said Wednesday they are not ready to take action on a proposed deficit-spending reduction plan as parents criticized one of the plan proposals to substantially increase fees for sports participation.
“This plan is just a guide, and we need to work on it,” said board member Brian Stidham.
Superintendent Lee Seiple, at the board’s order, developed a plan to eliminate projected deficit spending of $650,000 by the end of the 2011-12 school year.
Included in the plan is a proposed increase of up to $200 for each student to participate in sports. The current fee is $50.
Board member David Wise warned that substantial pay-to-play increases could eliminate parent fund-raising efforts on behalf of their children’s sports teams.
“If you raise this to $200, you won’t have any booster clubs,” said Wise, who is a member of Mathews Athletic Boosters.
A parent of a cheerleader, who also must pay to participate, said she had to spend more than an additional $190 on cheerleading expenses for her daughter, adding that she could not afford any additional pay-to-play hike.
Board President Ken Wallace asked the district’s athletic director to survey the coaches to find about additional expenses being passed on to students and parents.
“Playing in sports costs more for some and even more for others,” Wallace said. “We have to find out what is being spent beyond what the boosters provide.”
Also included in Seiple’s plan is the eventual reduction of five teachers, a proposal criticized by Sandra Webber, Mathews Education Association president.
“This will be detrimental to the elementary level and to special [education],” Webber said. “These positions cannot be absorbed, and we’re already at bare bones in the high school.”
Wallace and the other board members did not indicate when they expect to vote on the deficit- spending reduction proposals.
In one other item, Seiple expressed his concerns about cuts in education funding when Gov.-elect John Kasich takes office.
“We’re hearing as much as 15 to 20 percent, but right now, nothing is confirmed,” Seiple said.