Standish-Sterling weighing changes to middle school football
STANDISH — The middle school football program at Standish-Sterling Community Schools may undergo changes in the coming months in order to trim some spending from the district’s budget.
Superintendent Darren Kroczaleski said the program’s $8,535 price tag was one expense officials had discussed reducing in recent months. He said one idea that was considered was turning the program over to the Lions Youth Organization, a member of the Northern Michigan Youth football League that field four teams comprised of third-sixth graders.
“It was in the Lions at one time, and the question came up, ‘Do we want to turn it over to the Lions again or not?’” Kroczaleski said.
A vote during the Standish-Sterling school board’s Dec. 9 meeting to turn middle school football over to the Lions Youth Organization failed 3-4.
Standish-Sterling Athletic Director Ben Welmers said he has proposed having middle school football operate as a club sport.
“What I presented to the committee is to run it as a club sport, which only changes the way you run it,” he said. “You have the same coaches, but you take the coaches pay out of it.”
According to Welmers, about $5,800 of the program’s cost is coaches’ pay. He said the program runs with two coaches for seventh-graders and two coaches for eighth-graders.
Kroczaleski said out of the four coaches, two were paid and two were volunteers.
Welmers said if paying coaches was taken out of the equation, it would actually make a profit, as revenue for middle school football was about $4,100 last year.
The option to pay coaches would still be available if the football program wanted to use funds it raised alternatively without using general fund monies, Welmers said. He said if that was the route taken, the new head coach of the varsity team would have to make that decision.
“Whoever we hire as a head coach, I would just put it on them,” he said. “If they want to continue to run the program and pay the coaches, they’d have to find another way besides the school’s general fund to run it.”
Welmers said he hopes to have a new head coach hired by January or February. Longtime coach Paul Walderzak retired at the end of the Panthers’ 2013 season.
According to Kroczaleski, Standish-Sterling does have club sports that operate through the district’s community education department.
“Those programs are funded by community ed revenues, and not the general fund,” he said. “Right now, we have a middle school volleyball program that is through the community ed. We have runners club and middle school track, and those are through community ed.”