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School board approves cuts to athletics, other areas

In order to submit a balanced budget to Washington County commissioners as requested, members of the Board of Education considered last week where to make $1.3 million worth of cuts to the school system.
Washington County Director of Schools Ron Dykes gave school board members a list of seven recommended cuts, including coaching supplements for all athletic programs that are not self-supporting.
Those sports are baseball, softball, track, cross country, volleyball, soccer, wrestling and golf.
The list also recommended the elimination of:
• New textbooks that would keep the schools in line with new state teaching requirements;
• Five instructional assistants to save $125,000;
• Three nurses to save $105,000;
• Both athletic directors at a savings of $140,000;
• New buses to save $140,000; and
• Two groundskeeper positions at a savings of $74,000.
“We have cut $2.5 million from our operating funds over the last three years and you are about to put this on top of that,” Dykes said. “You’re just close to making this system operate on $4 million less than it did three years ago – and we have two additional schools.”
Dykes explained to school board members the cutting of coaching supplements would force many of the athletic programs to shut down at both the high school and middle school levels.
“They would only be able to function on a volunteer basis,” Dykes said. “This is a gut wrenching decision, but I refuse to pull any more money from curriculum, period.”
School board member Chad Williams proposed an amendment to the list, suggesting that all extracurricular supplements be cut instead of just those for non self-supporting sports.
“Any money from that can go toward textbooks so we can buy books to meet the state curriculum,” he said, noting he didn’t think it was fair to single out some sports and extracurricular activities to be cut while keeping others in tact.
School board member Todd Ganger seconded Williams’ motion to amend the list of cuts.
Board member Clarence Mabe, visibly upset, requested a five-minute recess before the vote.
Immediately following the recess, Williams removed his amendment from the table and Ganger removed his second to the amendment.
A short time later the board voted to approve Dykes’ original list of recommendations, with Williams casting the only dissenting vote.
Following last week’s school board meeting, the Washington County Budget Committee found another $250,000 on Friday to help fund the school system. (See full story on Page 1A).
The school board will determine how to use that extra money during its Sept. 3 meeting.
Dykes has said he would like it to be used to reinstate all coaching supplements.