SOUTHINGTON - The Board of Education approved plans for funding middle school sports through an â€śactivity feeâ€ť at Thursdayâ€™s meeting.
Business and Finance Director Sheri Dinello introduced the idea proposed by the Middle School Activities Committee, which has met four times separately from the Board of Education. The committee was formed with parents and town leaders after funding for middle school sports programs was cut from the town budget.
â€śWe are discussing an online payment system for parents to use for fees and activities similar to what is used for lunches,â€ť she said. â€śIt may be a slow roll-out at first as we choose which activities to test with.â€ť
Board members Patricia Queen and Zaya Oshana, who also serve on the committee, elaborated on the plan developed over the past month.
Parents will be charged a $100 activity fee for all sports including cross country based on the costs of similar programs in other districts. No student will be excluded if they canâ€™t afford to pay. A â€śfamily capâ€ť on costs, which Oshana supports, is also being discussed.
Southington Public Schools will run and manage all programs and the Board of Education will insure them.
In the first year, the committee aims to raise as much money to compensate for the $120,000 cut from the budget.
In the second year, the committee aims to ramp up its fundraising efforts.
In the third year, the committee will look into additional and enhanced opportunities to offer to students.
â€śThe parents and other members of the committee should be commended for what they have done,â€ť said school board member Terri Carmody.
â€śThe budget was a horrible event and this program got cut,â€ť said Oshana. â€śAfter that, middle school students came up and spoke at the podium and gave amazing presentations. They spoke better than many adults and offered great suggestions that we have discussed over and over again at our meetings.â€ť
When the council voiced its support for the plan, Oshana said that the plan â€śsaved middle school sports.â€ť This earned rousing applause from parents in the audience.
Additionally, during the superintendentâ€™s report, Superintendent of Schools Tim Connellan said that according to state studies, Southington schools have been doing a â€śgood jobâ€ť in meeting the needs of special education students.
â€śKudos to our special education staff,â€ť he said. â€śThey are doing a nice job with our students.â€ť
During the communications portion of the meeting, school board member Rob Brown said he was â€śdistressedâ€ť about the state budget and urged residents attending the meeting to contact their legislators and the governor.
â€śIt is ridiculous to be three weeks until school starts and we donâ€™t know how much money weâ€™re getting,â€ť he said. â€śBoth parties are to blame for this political mess and they should be ashamed.â€ť
Brown criticized proposals to shift the costs of teacher pensions on to municipalities and to â€śtake money from wealthier suburbs and give to cities.â€ť
He said it would be foolish to do this so close to the start of the school year.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.