Though they only raised about half the funds they were shooting for, the group that formed to save sports and non-athletic extracurriculars in the Lake Local School District did just that.
Making what one board member described as a "leap of faith," the Lake Local Board of Education voted 4-0 last night to accept almost $100,000 in private donations raised by the FLYERS organization to reinstate fall sports and all non-athletic clubs for the coming school year.
"The board once again has taken the community on faith," board member Ted Hubler told the audience of about 150, who clapped and cheered after the board made its decision. "This is to help reinstate things, but the levy in November is the most important thing."
The board made its decision after meeting in a closed-door executive session for 90 minutes with four members of the FLYERS, a group made up of about 23 parents and community members who raised more than $94,000 in just under two weeks in a grass-roots campaign effort in an attempt to save the activities.
On June 16, the board voted to eliminate the supplemental positions that oversee sports and other extracurricular activities for the second time in less than a year. Board members also took a host of other actions to cut a total of more than $1 million, saying they had no choice after voters rejected their last five funding requests and board projected that the district would have had a budget deficit by January.
The board originally slashed sports and other activities to balance its budget after a levy was defeated in August, but reversed itself later that month after parents circulated petitions in support of putting an income tax levy on the November ballot. Despite an organized campaign effort, the tax proposal failed by more than a 2-to-1 margin.
Tim DeLong, who voted to eliminate the activities June 16, did not attend last night's meeting because his school board resignation took effect yesterday.
Board President Margene Akenberger said the board voted to reinstate the activities because they'll be funded by the FLYERS, which stands for "Funding Lake's Youth: Embracing, Rebuilding, Supporting."
"We're not funding it," she said. "It's through private donations. Before, it was [paid for by] the taxpayers. But we have a lot of work ahead of us. The incentive is there, and we hope that all rolls into passing a levy."
Several members of the organization addressed the board and outlined their proposal to fully fund the activities this coming school year, including an increased pay-to-participate fee.
Ms. Akenberger said the board would consider the rest of the proposal once they looked at it in more detail.
But for now, all non-athletic clubs, such as quiz bowl, French club, National Honor Society, and yearbook, were reinstated for the entire 2005-06 school year. Winter and spring sports will stay eliminated unless the organization can raise the money to support them, and the levy the board plans to put on the November ballot is approved.
But FLYERS member Eric Hirzel said he's confident fund-raising efforts and pending prospects will work out.
"Fall sports is a great start," said Mr. Hirzel, who has three children attending Lake schools.
Last night's news was just what senior football player Bryan Pfouts was hoping to hear.
"It was pretty overwhelming," the 16-year-old said. "I'm pretty excited now. It went over a lot better than I thought it was going to, and it's just good to have them back."