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Columbia County schools budget plan includes middle school sports

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Sports programs in Columbia County middle schools are safe, for now.

Topic: Columbia County Schools
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Last week, school officials proposed cutting track, junior varsity softball, junior varsity baseball, soccer, golf and tennis from middle schools as a cost-saving measure.

During a budget study session Tuesday, the school board decided to keep the programs for at least the next school year while a study is conducted on the viability of all athletic programs.

Board Chairwoman Regina Buccafusco said the study likely will focus on costs for all athletic programs, including high schools, and seek alternative ways to provide athletics for interested middle-schoolers.

School officials are looking to trim next school year's budget to offset a $6 million drop in state funding.

Cutting some middle school sports would save the system about $87,000 in coaching supplements alone. The school system could save even more by eliminating the purchase of equipment for those sports and travel expenses to games, Superintendent Charles Nagle has said.

The superintendent expressed dismay at "the many" e-mails and complaints he has received from parents protesting the sports cuts when no one has complained about instructional cuts.

If next year's cuts are included, the system has lost about $21 million from the state since 2007, Nagle said.

To make up revenue deficits, the school system has eliminated hundreds of teaching and paraprofessional positions, furloughed teachers, increased class sizes, and, most recently, eliminated Spanish-language instruction from middle schools.

"That (middle school sports) is the only thing everyone in the county focused on, and that disappoints me," Nagle said.

As an alternative to eliminating middle school sports, board member Roxanne Whitaker suggested cutting high school wrestling, lacrosse and swimming programs because not every school has them.

School trustee Mike Sleeper said he would not vote to eliminate a sport from one school just because another school was unwilling or unable to field a team.

Sleeper said he spoke last week with Columbia County Recreation Department officials on this issue and was told that the department likely could handle any participant increases caused by the loss of middle school sports. Considering that, Sleeper said, the board should consider cutting all middle school athletics.

"We can't keep cutting from the classroom and continue to expect a good product," he said.

However, he moved to approve the proposed budget with the sports expenses included. The other board members voted against, saying they wanted more time to examine the budget.

The board likely will vote on the budget May 26.

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Waymore
103
Points
Waymore 05/18/10 - 10:31 am
0
0
Yeah, keep furloughing

Yeah, keep furloughing teachers and keep the sports. We all know that it's the job of the schools to cutlivate the next great sports star. If these kids want to play sports, let their parents foot the bill.

Chillen
17
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Chillen 05/18/10 - 10:50 am
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The problem will middle

The problem will middle school sports is that middle schools only play each other within a county. If you make parents pay for it, some schools will not be able to field teams. The parents from wealthier schools can pay for it but the others cannot. So, you might only have 1 or 2 schools in the whole county participating in golf or softball. There would be no reason for them to even play.

To help raise money and pay for the programs, raise the ticket prices for entry to all the games. Charge the parents a little bit more for a child to participate. Use parent volunteers as coaches. Have the kids do fund raisers to raise the money for their sport. But don't get rid of middle school sports. Kids who are active in school sports, as a general rule, do better academically because of it.

The real cuts need to be made in admin - too many assistants; make cuts in the construction of the schools; cut some in technology - there are quite a few teachers out there who NEVER use their smart boards; and lastly, cut at the state level - I'll bet the waste there is unbelievable.

csrareader
1283
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csrareader 05/18/10 - 10:51 am
0
0
Hmmm... I believe the

Hmmm... I believe the parents do "foot the bill" in the form of taxes. The State of Georgia, and local Boards of Education, have no money that belongs to them. It all belongs to taxpayers. The role of sports has never been to "cultivate the next great sports star," but middle and high school sports play a very important role in the development of young people, just like other extracurricular activities.

142
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Dan White 05/18/10 - 10:52 am
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We have an outstanding county

We have an outstanding county recreation department and Martinez- Evans Little League for those wanting to play sports in the 7-8th grades too. Teachers are more important than sports in these hard times especially when a viable alternative exists through our outstanding county and MELL youth leagues.

142
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Dan White 05/18/10 - 10:56 am
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No one is proposing cutting

No one is proposing cutting high school sports. Not all school systems have the money to fund Middle School sports like Columbia County has. They turn to the recreation departments for the role of developing young people and use the money from the parents' taxes to pay for teachers instead of coaching supplements. Mr. Nagle said that he could save $86,000 by cutting some of the middle school sports. That savings could pay for a teacher and then some. Further, not all kids who try out for Middle School sports make the team and thus cannot enjoy the role of youth development that Middle School sports offer. Whereas in the recreation leagues, all play!

142
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Dan White 05/18/10 - 10:58 am
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Yes, Chillen, we are finding

Yes, Chillen, we are finding out how much fluff and waste is in the state and local school systems as they are forced to cut out the Lexus and Cadillac items in education and get down to the essentials. I agree that some of the administrators could be cut in Columbia County. I know Richmond is cutting some of them through attrition.

142
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Dan White 05/18/10 - 11:02 am
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You all need to know how

You all need to know how Middle School sports are funded. The county pays coaches supplements. The booster club for each school raises money for referree costs, equipment costs, and other such expenses. Softball and baseball coaches are required to get their fields in game day condition in Columbia County. Richmond pays for softball and baseball field maintenance expense out of their general budget and has maintenance workers prepare the fields. The cost to taxpayers in Columbia County is for coaching supplements only.

Chillen
17
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Chillen 05/18/10 - 11:12 am
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I agree greenjacket and that

I agree greenjacket and that would be great too but the county has lots of problems right now in the rec dept. I've heard several times that the county has been talking about cutting it altogether and having a private company take it over (if they can find one).

Also, with the staff they have they are overloaded running the sports & teams they currently have - they couldn't even take over the Spring Football league because they didn't have the staff.

The cost of running the middle school sports programs would still remain it would just be shifted to the county rec department. I guess they could cut sports for 5, 6 & 7 year olds and then take over middle school without additional cost.

MELL is supposed to be very good for baseball. CAYFA is not so good with football. They practice unfair draft procedures and don't run a fair league. Plus their "verification" of birth certificates is suspect. Parents have said that they know for sure that overage kids are on their teams. I would not trust them to take over football for the whole middle school program.

SUNSHINEGIRL
0
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SUNSHINEGIRL 05/18/10 - 11:38 am
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In response to Chillen: as

In response to Chillen: as far as CAYFA- as long as Buddy has anything to do with CAYFA there will always be problems.

Mr. Thackeray
847
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Mr. Thackeray 05/18/10 - 11:38 am
0
0
Cut administrators not

Cut administrators not teachers or athletic programs. Middle school kids need that. No matter how good Little Leagues etc are, they are NOT as good a school programs.

142
Points
Dan White 05/18/10 - 11:46 am
0
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Yes, chillan, the rec

Yes, chillan, the rec department has problems too and the draft is not always fair in CAYFA and sometimes not fair in the rec dept. But, ask the parents of kids who were cut from the middle school teams and they will say it isn't fair either. Mr. Nagle proposed a collaberative relationship with the rec departement if Middle School sports were cut. That sounds logical to me and I would be for the school board granting some money to the rec department. The savings in cutting middle school sports even with a collaborative relationship with the rec dept would still be substantial.

truerosez
0
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truerosez 05/18/10 - 11:52 am
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The taxes that go to the

The taxes that go to the board of education are for 'education'. Public education is provided for because of the United States Constitutions' provision requiring a 'free and equal public education' for all citizens. It is not only free, but compulsory---required by law that students attend. No one gets a diploma or g.e.d. for sports. The constitution says nothing about taxes paying or any provision requiring free and equal public after school sports teams. We pay taxes locally for the recreation dept., which does a very good job of offering baseball, soccer, football, tennis, workout facilities. The previous writer was simply making a very good point----if something MUST be cut because of these difficult financial times, academics, teaching, education, graduation, test scores, should come first, especially since families can pursue sports interests elsewhere (like recreation depts., sports camps,etc.).

Chillen
17
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Chillen 05/18/10 - 11:58 am
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greenjacket. We're pretty

greenjacket. We're pretty much on the same page. I'm totally fine with middle school kids playing sports at the rec department instead of middle school, I just don't think they'll be a cost savings.

The rec dept does a fine job with county sports and they've changed their draft procedures so its as fair as it can be now - the way it should be done. Love it!

Chillen
17
Points
Chillen 05/18/10 - 12:04 pm
0
0
truerosez the problem right

truerosez the problem right now is that the rec dept doesn't NOT offer sports for middle school kids - golf, track, football, etc .

If you cut middle school sports & expect them to go to the rec dept - they can't. Unless the rec dept changes their policies and adds a bunch of sports - and threfore adds costs.

Wood
0
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Wood 05/18/10 - 12:18 pm
0
0
After reading the article, I

After reading the article, I was disappointed to not find in print that the Columbia County School system is sitting on a surplus of $31,000,000. While I am sure that money has rigid requirements for use, it seems a bit comical that we would consider turning away young athletes to save a mere $87,000 in coaching supplements.

How about this: Allow parents or other adults to volunteer their services as assistant coaches and reduce the number of staff positions. I have seen this work and it is cost free to the county. Indeed, you'll likely find that the children would receive a far better instruction from someone willing to coach for free versus a teacher that wants a little something extra in their check at the end of the month. Parent volunteers have been turned away at some CC middle schools and not at others. How about a little consistency?

Lastly, Mr. Nagle is upset that the board got so much feedback about cutting athletics but not nearly as much regarding cutting teaching positions. CRCT and other standardized testing indicates that children in these schools are receiving a very good education. So, is there room to cut back? Hard to argue until you see the result. Eliminating athletics in school however, would give kids another reason to stay inside, play video games, etc. Why not offer a well rounded educational experience?

cusinga
0
Points
cusinga 05/18/10 - 12:52 pm
0
0
I can't believe CCBOE's

I can't believe CCBOE's decision. I remember Nagle saying that he would "not cut a teacher's salary to keep sports" and that is exactly what he did.

whyme
1465
Points
whyme 05/18/10 - 01:08 pm
0
0
A middle school Spanish

A middle school Spanish teacher told me she was losing her position as they are keeping the home ec dept. Not a smart move at all in these days. No longer is it as critical to be able to cook and sew as compared to learning another language that will be applicable in our kids' future business/other careers. However, sports have always been protected as we all know-whether it's passing the failing kids so they can still play or putting more money into the fields and equipment and shorting out the fine arts department, for example. Someone needs to get a clue...go back to school!

Chillen
17
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Chillen 05/18/10 - 01:13 pm
0
0
Yea, i don't get that at all.

Yea, i don't get that at all. Cut Spanish? The younger the child the more easily they learn the language.

Sounds like a great opportunity for some entrepreneur to open up after school spanish classes in the middle schools. I'd pay $50/month for my child to learn spanish twice a week after school. Call it a "Spanish Club".

142
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Dan White 05/18/10 - 01:15 pm
0
0
Chillen - yes, we are on the

Chillen - yes, we are on the same page. But consider this about middle school golf. These kids who play for their middle school are not novices. They are not learning the sport like a PE class would learn a sport. They are already playing at golf course, some even a country club, and play in tournaments. So, I don't see a problem with cutting golf. Middle School football is another matter in regards to the rec dept. Football is expensive. Track could be easily and inexpensively be added with county track meets like they do in baseball.

csrareader
1283
Points
csrareader 05/18/10 - 01:18 pm
0
0
Not necessarily true about

Not necessarily true about golf, not that it matters. There are beginners who play that sport in middle school. Not all of them are the country club type you describe. If you think differently, go watch a few matches.

142
Points
Dan White 05/18/10 - 01:18 pm
0
0
Wood, the kids who play

Wood, the kids who play Middle School sports are quite active in rec dept sports. Middle School sports is for those kids who already show skills and talent and it is not for novices who for example have never picked up a glove, bat, and ball. The couch potatoes do not play organized sports in rec and church leagues nor do they get in the neighborhood and run and play like we did in the old days without parental supervision or encouragment. We just loved the outdoors.

Little Lamb
44020
Points
Little Lamb 05/18/10 - 01:21 pm
0
0
To Chillen: If they're going

To Chillen: If they're going to teach a foreign language, it would be better to teach Chinese than Spanish.

142
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Dan White 05/18/10 - 01:29 pm
0
0
csra reader - trust me, a kid

csra reader - trust me, a kid who has never picked up a golf club and tries out for a middle school team will not make the cut. And no, I did not say all were the country club type. I said some play at golf courses (meaning public courses) and some even play at the country club.

142
Points
Dan White 05/18/10 - 01:31 pm
0
0
Wood - a point of clarity.

Wood - a point of clarity. All Middle School sports in the county must have a certified teacher on the sidelines by Board policy. The teacher may not know a hoot about the sport and rely on a parent volunteer for help. There is no way to get out of paying a teacher to coach because of board policy. If something happened to one of those kids without a teacher present, then all you know what would break loose. It is quite a process that a parent has to go through to get certified to coach in one of our schools due to liability issues especially with the problems in our society of child sexual, physical, and verbal abuse. Plus, some head coaches do not want a parent volunteer and that is their option.

Riverman1
79742
Points
Riverman1 05/18/10 - 02:30 pm
0
0
Well, it's been decided for

Well, it's been decided for the next year, so let's support the JV baseball and other sports for another year. But what could be done is a merger with the Col. Cty. Rec. Dept and the school system. Let the elite Rec. Dept. teams represent the schools by using their names. We are duplicating our efforts it seems to me. That's always been the case, but isn't it time to fix the problem and save our schools tens of thousands? Volunteer coaches in the Rec. Dept. using the names of the schools would solve the problem.

My son played both school and Rec. ball and got a college scholarship (love bringing that up), but it was often a conflicting schedule at the middle school level. It's time to fix matters and save teachers' jobs.

cusinga
0
Points
cusinga 05/18/10 - 02:18 pm
0
0
Yes indeed, we are talking

Yes indeed, we are talking Chinese...

Riverman1
79742
Points
Riverman1 05/18/10 - 02:34 pm
0
0
We now know nothing is going

We now know nothing is going to happen, but it was wrong for some in the media (at least one) to suggest middle school coaches were conspiring to create a short schedule. That "short schedule" in no way took into account the weeks of practice. Mr. Nagle knew that.

In addition the media person sounded as if most middle school sports were up for elimination when it was not in any way suggested. JV baseball and track were about as bad as it got, but that has apparently been shelved.

142
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Dan White 05/18/10 - 03:00 pm
0
0
Riverman - I agree that is

Riverman - I agree that is ludricous to suggest that Middle School coaches were conspiring for a short schedule. With the addition of Stallings Island and Grovetown, the schedule is longer than it was a few years ago, and the supplement has not gone up with the longer schedule.

142
Points
Dan White 05/18/10 - 03:01 pm
0
0
Riverman - your proposal is

Riverman - your proposal is excellent to have rec teams representing their middle schools. That is what they do in summer ball for the rec for high school baseball and softball. They have teams that represent the high schools they play for during the school year.

csrareader
1283
Points
csrareader 05/18/10 - 03:45 pm
0
0
No... no... no. You don't

No... no... no. You don't want rec teams representing middle schools. If they need to cut middle school sports, fine -- cut them. DON'T have rec teams masquerading as middle school teams. The daddy coach system won't work. If rec wants to add more teams, fine -- just don't associate them with the school system AT ALL.

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