Prepared Text for Board Meeting – July 9, 2007

Marc A. Schare, 614 791-0646 Home

614 791-0067 Work.  marc9@aol.com

 

 

Should the Worthington School District include baseball and softball in its roster of  sponsored middle school sports?

 

If you are the parent of an aspiring baseball or softball player, the answer is obvious. Most other districts in central Ohio offer middle school baseball so of course, Worthington should. If, on the other hand, you are a taxpayer whose hard earned dollars are going to subsidize the after school activity of someone else’s kid, or perhaps you are someone who thinks that school should emphasize academics and leave the sports to other organizations, you might have a different opinion. So what is the right answer?

 

Here’s what I believe. Sports are an integral and systemic part of public education and few would argue that all sports should be discontinued, so what we are dealing with is numbers – how much should Worthington Schools and the Worthington taxpayer fund sports. What percentage of the general revenue fund should go for this purpose and then, how can we utilize those dollars in the best possible way.

 

To begin to answer these questions, I asked the obvious – how much do we spend on sports now? What are best practices in this area? How much do we spend per kid per sport? How does this compare to other districts? To my surprise, I learned that my questions was unanswerable. We simply did not have the data necessary to answer questions about our cocurricular program sports program.

 

Looking back over my 18 months on the board, every time we as a district face a sports related question, we punt. What should we do about middle school gymnastics. We postponed the decision for a year and then the subject never came up again. What should we do about the weight room tech. We “found” the money last year and, to my knowledge, we’ll  “find” more money again this year. Next year? Who knows.

 

Lacking such data, it is impossible to determine whether the deal on the table for middle school baseball  is a good deal for the Worthington taxpayer. Do we spend too much money on sports now? Perhaps we don’t spend enough to be competitive with surrounding districts? Perhaps our community believes, as I do, that the overwhelming focus should be on academics. Perhaps not?  The only thing that seems clear about this issue is the need to study it so this administration and this board can operate off a clear set of facts and we can make effective, fact based decisions about the cocurricular program. Any support for additional expenditures in sports should be tied to the implementation of such a study.


 

We still have the question, however, of what to do about this proposal. Here’s one guys opinion. Without prejudging the results of the study, it seems clear that baseball and softball, given the support of the Worthington Youth Boosters and the fact that these are high participation, low cost sports to begin with, and further given the fact that most surrounding districts have baseball and softball, will do well in the study and will be a reality in the district, so let’s go ahead, concurrent with the study, and authorize this pilot program while simultaneously asking the administration to perform the study. If Middle School Baseball/Software fares well in the study, it will continue, otherwise, it will not.

 

The question then turns to how to pay for it. I am loathe to ask the administration to divert resources from academics to pay for a sport before we undertake this study, however, political reality would seem to be on the other side of that argument, therefore, I propose a compromise. Rather than use general fund money or the Pepsi money, we use the interest on the Pepsi money to fund the program for 2 years. We have $269,000 in the Pepsi fund. At 5.25%, this money should be generating $14122 per year, or 94% of the projected cost of the program during the pilot. Using the interest on the Pepsi money has the following advantages:

 

1) It guarantees that the Pepsi money will not be spent on anything else.

2) It caps the programs cost at $15,000 while we perform the study.

3) It allows us to implement the pilot immediately without touching the five year forecast.

4) It honors the original intent of the Pepsi fund.

 

In addition to using the interest on the Pepsi fund, I support the increase in the pay to participate fee to $125/sport, regardless of the number of sports that an individual participates in. A comprehensive study on sports will assist us in more accurately setting a pay to participate fee.

 

In conclusion, I’d ask my colleagues to join me in asking the administration to craft a proposal for middle school baseball and softball along the lines of the current proposal, pay for it using interest on the Pepsi money and funds from the increase in pay to participate and couple it with a study, to be completed no later than August, 2008, into all aspects of our cocurricular sports program. Such a proposal should be completed within the next two weeks, distributed to the community for comment and come back to us for a vote on August 13.