By Evamarie Socha
The Daily Item
MIDDLEBURG — Midd-West High School students will continue to play football with East Juniata High School under a cooperative agreement the school board approved at its meeting Monday night.
The decision did not come easy, passing by a 5-3 vote after much discussion and questions between directors and business manager Lynn Naugle.
Directors Ronald Hoffman, Shawn Sassaman and Ronald Wilson voted against the agreement. Director Dana Kemberling was absent from the meeting.
Director James Aurand voiced concern about what he perceived as locking the district into a contract. “When we balance the budget in June, if we have to cut all sports, does this get cut?” he asked.
No, Naugle said, but there are certain expenses the school district covers outright, such as transportation to games.
Sassaman said he expected this contract would be more expensive, to which Naugle said without knowing yet how many Midd-West students would play, it’s not known what the program will cost. Currently there is $32,000 budgeted for it.
Hoffman said he didn’t like the idea of having to cut education to meet the budget deficit, to which Superintendent Wesley Knapp said the school district “will look at everything we do. There is no question the money will have to be found.”
The formal cooperative agreement is for two years and will renew automatically in spring 2015 unless there is action from either school.
At issue is money, specifically Midd-West’s projected $700,000 deficit for its 2013-14 school district budget. Under the agreement, Midd-West’s share would depend on student participation but likely would increase between $2,000 to $8,000 in the next year, said athletic director Bree Solomon, given increases in such things as equipment. Midd-West paid East Juniata $14,500 last fall to take part in the football program.
The percentage is based upon Midd-West’s level of participation. For instance, if Midd-West students comprise 30 percent of the team, the funding split would be 70-30. If the team membership is divided evenly between the two schools, the funding would be 50-50.
Right now, Midd-West has a current pay-to-play fee of $40 per student, Solomon said, which will rise to $50 per student next year.