Having lost virtually all middle school sports to budget cuts, Southington parents and educators are trying to find ways to keep athletics and activities despite losing funds.
A new "activities committee" met for the first time on Wednesday night. It was only the first meeting, but there was very little talk about any new activities, simply keeping sports, or at least some of them, this fall.
Two Southington Board of Education members, along with parents, volunteers and representatives from both middle schools, met to look for opportunities to raise money to keep sports and lay the groundwork for activities.
This comes two weeks after Southington’s Board of Education had to slash its budget by $1 million.
Sports were part of the cuts, and the same goes for 14 teachers and paraprofessionals.
Matthew Morgan, a seventh grader from John F. Kennedy Middle School said he wants nothing more than to keep his favorite sports, soccer and basketball.
“This is a major after school activity for me so without this, I don't know what I would do with my time,” Morgan said.
For him, sports are at the core of this and they are expensive.
All sports except cross country were cut since it's not offered elsewhere in town, while travel sports and clubs are available for those who want to join.
He wants to see cross country's funding thrown into the pot for all sports.
“We are athletes too and we are proud to play for our school and we want to be recognized,” Morgan said.
Committee members say that money can't be shifted.
So the committee is trying to brainstorm ways of raising money through sponsorships and fundraisers, perhaps even a pay-to-play model.
But right now, that would cost over $500 per student, which is a price no one at the meeting felt comfortable with.
“There's a lot to do. School starts in two months and we've got a committed group of people and hopefully we can get something people need to understand it's probably not going to be what they expect, it's not going to be the same as it was last year but we are trying to get something done so we don't have a gap in the program,” said Board of Education member Zaya Oshana.
Ideas and big questions were jotted down on Wednesday, and another meeting is scheduled for next Wednesday at 5:30 at the municipal building. School starts in six weeks.
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