Southington middle school parents continue push to fund sports

Southington middle school parents continue push to fund sports

SOUTHINGTON — A group created two years ago to raise money for middle schools sports is looking for volunteers and board members to continue its work.

Southington Middle School Athletics Association was created after the school board cut $120,000 in funding for Kennedy and DePaolo middle school sports two years ago.

Through the creation of an activity fee and the association’s fundraising, the school district was able to continue sports at the middle school level.

Casie Messina, one of two association vice presidents, said the group has several fundraisers in place and was confident that it would again raise the roughly $40,000 needed to continue sports.

Those fundraisers include an Apple Harvest festival race team, a dinner, Hoop It Up night in December and more. Messina said volunteers with the group have departed as their children moved to the high school.

“If we can’t get the volunteers we need, we can’t just have a handful of people doing this. It’s too much money to raise for three, four, five people to do,” she said. “A lot of people think it’s just going to happen. We’re trying to let people know it’s not going to happen unless we have the people we need.”

It costs about $300 per student for sports, according to Messina. The activity fee covers $150. About 400 children participate.

During Thursday’s school board meeting, board member Patricia Queen said the group was looking for volunteers and asked parents to step up, if able. Queen said she’s been impressed with how the athletic association has been able to establish fundraisers to support sports.

“It is amazing what they have accomplished,” she said. “They’ve done so much work putting together an infrastructure around the SMSAA.”

This year, the Board of Education allocated $15,000 to help fund middle school sports. That leaves $40,000 for the group to raise.

Both Queen and Messina said the contribution was a help.

Queen said the board’s budget situation is uncertain every year with special education costs swinging wildly. Some years, such as the one past, the school district ends with a surplus. Sometimes it ends in a deficit, Queen said. Surpluses are used to cover one-time costs or fix building issues rather than add to the operating budget.

While accounts for the past fiscal year aren’t closed yet, school officials said they could have a surplus of about $600,000. Last week, the Board of Finance agreed to put the money into a savings account for the school district.

Messina said support for middle school sports is strong among education leaders and did hope for more funding. But she also realized that there were needs elsewhere in the district.

“I get that $40,000 is a starting teacher position,” Messina said.
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