Activity fee and partnership with booster group saves sports in Southington middle schools

Activity fee and partnership with booster group saves sports in Southington middle schools

Record-Journal


SOUTHINGTON — The Board of Education unanimously approved a middle school activity fee Thursday night, as well as a partnership with a booster group, to pay for the sports program.

The Southington Middle School Athletics Association presented a plan to the board for funding some sports this fall through the activity fee and fundraising. Group leaders say it’s just the first season of what they hope is a permanent program for keeping and expanding middle school sports.

Funding for middle school sports was cut earlier this summer as part of the Board of Education’s budget reduction plan. Transportation, coaches’ stipends and other costs for the program total about $120,000.

Part of that money will be raised through a $100 per roster slot activity fee approved by the board. The remainder will come through fundraising.

Mike Taylor, one of the association’s vice presidents, outlined the plan to the board Thursday. He said the activity fee was comparable to surrounding towns, as well as organizations such as the Boy Scouts.

“We felt that was a pretty fair number,” he said. “Surrounding communities have comparable or more expensive activity fees.”

The school district will collect the fees and also determine families who need assistance with paying it. Board and organization members said such assistance may be offered to those who qualify for free and reduced lunch.

Taylor said the booster group recommended moving cheerleading to the winter, which would mean less money would have to be raised for the fall season. The most urgent effort is to make sure sports start this upcoming school year, he said, but in future seasons expanding middle school sports — an example is adding boys volleyball — would be considered.

Association leaders and board members agreed to a deadline of Sept. 8 for fundraising, at which time they’ll consider what they can afford to offer.

“What the fall schedule looks like will be driven by the money that we get,” said Casie Messina, a group vice president.

Board members praised the work of parents and others who came up with ideas for funding middle school sports.

“You just saved middle school sports,” board member Zaya Oshana Jr. said.

“This is not a one-year event, this is not a two-year event, this is not a three-year event. This is a long-term sustainable program.”

The Southington Middle School Athletics Association scheduled a meeting for Tuesday, Aug. 15, at 6:15 p.m. in Town Hall to discuss fundraising and other efforts that need to take place in the next month.

jbuchanan@recordjournal.com 203-317-2230 Twitter: @JBuchananRJ


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