December 22, 2014

Elyria
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Future of Midview athletics will be in hands of voters

EATON TWP. — Midview High School’s basketball practice Thursday was somber after news that school-sponsored sports and extracurricular activities such as choir and band will be on the chopping block unless a levy passes during the school year.

Among those who may be affected is 6-foot-6 junior basketball player Jack Duffner, who might consider transferring to another school for his senior year.

“It’s a tough decision,” Jack said. “I have so much love for this school and the people here, but I’d also like to play basketball.”

He wasn’t alone.

Nick Shepherd, a sophomore basketball player and a safety on the football team, said athletes are eyeing other schools that will give them the opportunity to play.

“Everyone’s talking about switching — I’d probably go to a different school — Elyria or maybe Columbia,” Nick said.

Superintendent John Kuhn is expected to release his list of $2.3 million in recommended cuts in several weeks.

But school board President David Zunis warned at Wednesday’s school board meeting that the district needs to focus on preserving core education, and sports will be on the chopping block.

The school day of 7½ hours also may be slashed to 5 or 5½ hours and advanced placement classes and other electives such as French and business courses may be eliminated.

Zunis said cuts will have to be broad and deep. Eliminating spring sports and making other cutbacks now would only save $82,000, Zunis said.

“That’s nothing compared to $2.3 million,” Zunis said.

Teens walking at Midview High were thinking deeply about the impact of the cutbacks on their futures.

Timothy Murphy said he was “very disappointed” that severe cuts are planned after Nov. 6’s defeat of a 0.75 percent income tax and a 3.5-mill property tax.

“One of the things they’re thinking about eliminating is (Air Force) ROTC, and that hurts me,” Timothy said. “We have 150 to 160 students involved.”

“It’s my life’s dream to be an astrophysicist,” Timothy said.

Tori Farley, a freshman, said she wants to take advanced classes that probably will be cut unless voters pass a levy.

“Students aren’t going to learn as much,” Tori said. “I want to go to college and be a lawyer, but colleges won’t look at (accepting) you as much if you don’t have the ‘good’ classes.”

Midview Athletic Director Creg Jantz said he worries about students at his alma mater.

Athletes tend to have higher grade-point averages, and sports “provides a healthy outlet for them,” Jantz said.

“Athletics is probably 1 to 3 percent of a school’s budget, yet it is 99 percent of the attention a school gets,” Jantz said.

Neither Kuhn nor Jantz said he knows of any community effort to keep sports alive if the school board cuts its funding.

That happened in Buckeye Schools in Medina County, where a determined group of community members kept sports alive in a three-year period starting in the 2005-06 school year, said Glen Reisner, who led the effort.

“That was a nightmare,” Reisner said. “We caravanned to the games — every parent had to drive.”

“I basically put in eight to nine hours a day on my regular job and another eight to nine hours on the schools,” he recalled. “It got done — we kept the program going.”

After three years of not offering sports — and a series of additional levy failures — the Buckeye school board decided to again offer sports in the 2008-09 school year, he said.

Reisner, now Buckeye’s athletic director, warned that cutting sports is a double-edged sword.

“If you cut sports, you lose kids, and those kids are revenue to the school district,” Reisner said. “What they gain in savings they might lose in students leaving.”

Voters at Buckeye finally passed a 7.9-mill levy in August this year after the board announced more planned cuts including cutting the school day to the state minimum and eliminating hot lunches.

On Thursday, Kuhn said he did not yet know when his list of cuts will be announced.

The superintendent said the cutback list will be initially distributed to the Midview school board before the next meeting at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 19.

Contact Cindy Leise at 329-7245 or cleise@chroniclet.com.