Representatives of the Barbour All County Sports Program tried to persuade members of the Barbour County Board of Education Monday not to eliminate the county's middle school sports coaching contracts, but later in the meeting the board voted to do just that.
Following a work session with the group, board members met for nearly an hour in executive session. After they returned, members voted to eliminate the coaching contracts by a vote of 3 to 2.
Board members Joanne McConnell and Doward Matlick voted against Superintendent Dr. Joseph Super's recommendation to eliminate the coaching positions, while members Robert Wilkins, Eric Ruf and Dana Stemple voted in favor of eliminating the contracts.
"The final budget will be set April 16 and any time between now and then, the positions can be reinstated if the funding becomes available," board president Wilkins said. "Right now, we have to balance our budget - we have to be prudent. So if the money isn't in the bank, we can't do it."
Barbour All County Sports Program spokesman Eddy Poling said the group has many fundraisers planned to raise money in hopes of paying the middle school coaches' salaries, and said the group doesn't plan to just go away.
"We have an elimination dinner planned, a basketball tournament and shirt sales," Poling said during the meeting. "Nick Mayle is walking from Philippi to Canton, Ohio to raise funds and awareness of middle school sports funding issues."
Poling said the group also has a Facebook page with a Paypal account to begin accepting donations. Donations can also be sent to BACSP, P.O. Box 53, Philippi, WV 26416. The group said raising $34,000 would pay the coaches' salaries.
"I also checked and there are 12,000 adults in Barbour County," Poling said. "If each person donated $2.67 each, we would have enough to pay the middle school sports coaching salaries."
McConnell commended the group and their efforts.
"You have given people like me who do not have a child in school now a way to support middle school sports in this county," McConnell said.
Philippi attorney Hunter B. Mullens also addressed board and audience members on behalf of middle school student athlete Chase Collier.
Mullens said if one county in West Virginia eliminates middle school sports while other counties continue to offer middle school sports, there could be legal ramifications. Boardmembers made no response to Mullens' statement.
The Barbour County Board of Education is slated to meet next at 6 p.m. March 11.
"We will begin with a work session that evening to prioritize budget items to get a balanced budget," Wilkins said.