School board discusses adding soccer, wrestling
By Kristen Dymacek
Baldwin City Signal Writer
The Baldwin Board of Education hasn't said no to additional athletic programs, but it hasn't said yes either.
At Monday's meeting, board members discussed adding soccer and junior high wrestling as activities offered to Baldwin students, and though the programs have been ruled out for this year, next year is still up for debate.
"If we think it's important, we need to plan for it," Board Member Scott Lauridsen said. "It needs to go through the budget process. Now's the time to put it in for the following year."
But budget concerns kept the board from immediately implementing the programs for next year. Board members seemed to agree they were hesitant to approve the programs without an increase in the district's budget.
"We hate to say no before we've heard a proposal, but we've had four years of no new funding," Board President Ed Schulte said.
Lauridsen agreed the district's budget is tight, which is why he thought it would be difficult to add the programs this year.
"I personally believe we're under funded, and I think we're shoe-stringing it," he said. "I have reservations about adding more to what I feel is already an under-funded activity budget."
Neither the soccer nor wrestling proposals are new. They have been discussed by the board in previous years, but have never been approved because of the lack of funding in the budget.
Last month, a group of parents brought the soccer proposal before the board again.
The parents said no soccer opportunities are available in the area for high school students, and more than 50 students would play if a program were offered in the district.
"Our enthusiasm for this has always come from the kids," Cindy Trarbach, a parent, told the board Monday. "We know there is a large group of kids who want to play."
In the parents' proposal, the soccer program would be fully funded by parents' and patrons' contributions for the first three years.
"But there has been hesitation in making contributions or commitments because there hasn't been a decision by the board," Trarbach said.
Baldwin High School Wrestling Coach Kit Harris brought his junior high wrestling proposal before the board again Monday, also asking the program be added to the district's activities.
Harris said he also had people willing to raise funds to start the program, and he would be willing to volunteer his time as coach.
Schulte said Baldwin groups were always generous in helping with the start up of programs, but the district needed to look past the first couple years of the programs.
"It's hard to believe we can look at the generosity and say free may not be good enough," he said.
He recommended looking at the activities currently offered, their popularity among students, and how the money is being spent on them.
"Where can we provide the most opportunity for the most kids at the best investment?" he said.
Lauridsen said he would like to see the budget committee look at how the district could fund the two programs for next year.
Supt. James White said that would be difficult.
"If we don't have any idea whether we have more money or less money in state funding, it's going to be hard for us to do anything," he said.
But Lauridsen believed it would be possible.
"We can make the decision not to buy new textbooks and instead fund the programs. We can make that decision," he said. "We have the ability to decide where the money is spent. That's the point we have to get to. What's it going to cost and where's it going to come from?"
White told the board the budget committee would meet and discuss the proposals and funding options. He said he would like to have the information to the board by the November meeting, so games and matches could be scheduled for next year if the proposals were approved.
In other business, the school board:
- Approved in a 7-0 vote a four-year payment plan with Apple Computer for the $92,000 purchase of computer hardware and software.
- Approved the resignations of Brent Baker, BESIC third grade teacher; Jeff Haas, BHS social studies teacher; and Terri Twombly, BHS assistant volleyball coach. The board also approved the employment recommendations for April Kohrs, BESIC third grade teacher; Jason Crowder; BHS social studies teacher; Jane Miller and Jocelyn Leonard, BESIC student council co-representatives; Milton Scoby, VES Monday custodian; and Richard Bivens, part-time bus driver.