Southington board approves fees for middle school sports

Published on Thursday, 10 August 2017 21:39
Written by BRIAN M. JOHNSON

STAFF WRITER

SOUTHINGTON - The Board of Education approved plans for funding middle school sports through an “activity fee” at Thursday’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.

“We are discussing an online payment system for parents to use for fees and activities similar to what is used for lunches,” she said. “It may be a slow roll-out at first as we choose which activities to test with.”

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 can’t afford to pay. A “family cap” 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.

“The parents and other members of the committee should be commended for what they have done,” said school board member Terri Carmody.

“The budget was a horrible event and this program got cut,” said Oshana. “After 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.”

When the council voiced its support for the plan, Oshana said that the plan “saved middle school sports.” This earned rousing applause from parents in the audience.

Additionally, during the superintendent’s report, Superintendent of Schools Tim Connellan said that according to state studies, Southington schools have been doing a “good job” in meeting the needs of special education students.

“Kudos to our special education staff,” he said. “They are doing a nice job with our students.”

During the communications portion of the meeting, school board member Rob Brown said he was “distressed” about the state budget and urged residents attending the meeting to contact their legislators and the governor.

“It is ridiculous to be three weeks until school starts and we don’t know how much money we’re getting,” he said. “Both parties are to blame for this political mess and they should be ashamed.”

Brown criticized proposals to shift the costs of teacher pensions on to municipalities and to “take money from wealthier suburbs and give to cities.”

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 bjohnson@bristolpress.com.



Posted in The Bristol Press, General News, Southington Herald on Thursday, 10 August 2017 21:39. Updated: Thursday, 10 August 2017 21:42.