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Cheerleading, cross-country added to Carthage budget proposal

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WEST CARTHAGE — Cheerleaders and cross-country runners might have teams again next year at Carthage High School.

During a discussion on Carthage Central School District’s $55 million budget on Monday at the high school, the Board of Education agreed to add $10,000 to the athletic budget to revive the cheerleading squad and cross-country team.

“We had a group of athletes come and ask us to consider this,” said board member Mary Louise Hunt. “They deserve to have us discuss whether we have room to put them back in.”

Board members discussed many items that had been cut from the budget over the past several years, including a number of music classes and computer applications.

“I probably would have never said anything if those athletes hadn’t come through the doorway,” Mrs. Hunt said. “After 36 years, I never have seen anything put back in that was cut.”

In May 2011, the athletics department was asked to shave $70,000 from its budget, which sliced cheerleading and cross-country. Both teams became clubs with growing memberships.

In mid-March, Stephen Nolan, director of athletics and physical education, recommended next year’s athletic budget at $324,956, which he said was as tight as he could get it without cutting programs.

Board President Barbara A. Lofink reminded the board that many schools do not have the luxury of adding to the budget.

“I agree with you, Mary Louise, that we should take it one step forward,” she said. “All these add-ons keep kids in school.”

Board Vice President Lori D. Miller and member Kent D. Burto said these discussions should have happened earlier in the school year rather than at the meeting before the board needs to adopt the budget.

Mrs. Miller also said that a recommendation to add the programs should have come from Superintendent Peter J. Turner or another school administrator, rather than from board members.

Mr. Burto said that if money can be found for cross-country and cheerleading, it should be found for other sports as well.

“I’d like to see $25,000 put into sports,” Mr. Burto said. He said adjustments could be made elsewhere in the budget.

Mrs. Hunt said $25,000 was too much to add to athletics. If the board were to add that much to the budget, she said, it should consider hiring another music teacher.

“The money we put into sports affects only a certain amount of kids,” Mrs. Hunt said. “Music affects 1,500 kids.”

Business Manager Amy M. Marrocco said she might be able to fit two new music teachers into the budget, but a flat tax levy will not be achievable if more programs are approved.

If the district takes the money out of the fund balance instead of raising the levy, she said, “then we risk going out like General Brown.”

The board agreed to have Mrs. Marrocco add $10,000 to the athletic budget to be approved at the April 22 meeting.

“It just boggles my mind that you take out cross-country and it goes from eight kids to 80 kids,” Mrs. Lofink said. “They should be rewarded. I could live with putting those two back in the budget.”

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