Parents ask that sports be spared

A group of parents let Barbour County Board of Education members know Monday they are opposed to any potential budget cuts that would eliminate middle school sports in the county.

The group is requesting to meet with board members to discuss solutions for keeping sports in their middle schools in the face of school system budget cuts.

Eddy Poling, of Moatsville, served as spokesperson for the group.

“We formed this group after hearing of possible budget cuts which would end all middle school sports,” Poling said. “We recognize members of the board of education understand the value sports has on our children and the community.

“We are requesting to meet with the board of education if the decision to eliminate middle school sports is being considered. The goal would be to work with the board of education to find solutions to keep all middle school sports. We are providing a list of contacts for the future if needed.”

Board president Robert Wilkins said that knowing the group has been formed is encouraging.

“It sounds like a wonderful idea,” Wilkins said. “But we don’t have information on the budget yet and if we are going to meet with you, it must be publicized and open to the public. We would have to advertise and we have to announce the meeting 10 days in advance.”

Superintendent Dr. Joseph Super said all of the response he has had from the group has been positive.

“I want to thank these folks,” Super said. “They are working for a solution and not as a part of the problem. Their input has been very helpful. This is an opportunity for us to realize we have tough decisions to make and you are helping.”

Wilkins thanked the delegation and asked them to be sure to continue working with Super.

Group representatives have created a page on Facebook, and have promised to keep the site up-to-date with useful information about the situation. The group gathered in Belington last week to brainstorm ways to help fund the sports should the board of education decide to cut sports to balance the budget.

Super has said that hard decisions will have to be made by the board following the defeat of a school bond and levy in the November election.

During the Belington meeting, group members discussed the need for nearly $33,000 that would pay middle school coach’s salaries in Barbour County. The group talked about options including “pay to play,” fundraising, grants and business sponsorships as ways to defray the cost of coaches.

Poling said he is very hopeful things can be worked out with the board of education.

“No further meetings for the group have been scheduled at this time,” Poling said.