The Waverly School Board unanimously reversed an unpopular decision of a previous board and allocated $53,600 to fund several high school athletic teams that had been relegated to club status as a cost saving measure.
“I’m just excited we’re able to do this through the district’s good fiscal management,” board president Britt Slocum after the Monday night meeting. “I see this as the beginning of great things to come in Waverly’s future. Sports go hand-in-hand with student achievement.”
The funding will be immediate, according to district spokesman Eldon McGraw.
The boys’ and girls’ swimming, soccer, cross country and tennis teams lost their funding in 2011 and the boys’ and girls’ golf teams lost theirs in 2010.
Waverly finance director Evan Nuffer said that the funding will come from money saved with the passage of Public Act 300 of 2012, which capped the percentage of payroll costs that Waverly will pay for teacher retirement.
Nuffer also said restoring funding for the teams will ensure that the district will be represented at all sports events in these areas, something that doesn’t necessarily happen with volunteer programs.
It’s hoped, too, he said, that solid athletic teams will be a help in boosting district enrollment.
Boys soccer coach Tom Masseau heralded the decision as great news.
“The soccer program worked really hard the past two seasons to keep the program afloat, so it is good to now that the School Board has reconsidered the status,” he said. “The club looks forward to continuing to build on the programs success. The club is also grateful for the support this year of the new superintendent and high school principal for their involvement in the program.”
Masseau added: “While we are no Holt, Okemos or East Lansing, we are certainly moving the program forward and the board’s decision last night helped greatly.”
Athletic director Chris Huff said that he is relieved that the burden of fundraising for some of Waverly’s varsity sports has been lifted from the shoulders of the parents of the players.
“Our kids deserve a first-class athletic experience,” Huff said. “I’m sure that knocking on doors became really tiresome, and it put us in a position where we were competing with each other for the very little in donations that’s out there.”
Huff also said that he is confident that the board will not revisit the idea of cutting some sports loose in an affort to save money any time soon.
“I believe that it’s the intent of our administration to keep all sports equally funded for as long as we can, because it’s part of the educational process,” he said. “I don’t think that anyone was comfortable with the situation, so it was a team effort to try to figure out how to make this happen.”