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Published: Wednesday, 6/23/2010

Summerfield athletes must pay to play


PETERSBURG, Mich. - Students who attend Summerfield Schools will pay to play sports when they return to class in September.

The board of education last week approved athletic participation rates for junior high and high school students as part of the budget plan for next year.

Superintendent John Hewitt said the fees, which cover all sports, will generate about $12,000 a year. He said the rate schedule hasn't been determined, but would be similar to the fees charged by other school districts.

"We haven't decided on the fees yet. The athletic director is looking at how many athletes would be affected. We do not want to hit our parents too hard this year. We want to keep it as low as we can," Mr. Hewitt said. The money raised is to offset costs for the athletic trainer.

The budget approved for next year by the board includes nearly $6.5 million in expenditures, about $200,000 more than the district incurred for the 2009-10 school year.

"The good thing is that we ended the current year with a $70,000 surplus," Mr. Hewitt said. "That was accomplished by conservative budgeting, and closely watching our expenses during the year."

To balance next year's budget, the board cut teachers and staff and eliminated some services.

The district sent pink slips to 11 teachers in April. However, 10 were recalled to return in the fall and the other teacher will be working part-time.

Mr. Hewitt said the recalls were made possible because five teachers retired.

"We have recalled all the laid-off teachers. A couple of the teachers would have lost their jobs had there not been those retirements," he said.

Cost-trimming measures approved include:

• Rehiring a speech specialist who retired and rehiring her at one-third of her old salary.

• Not replacing a middle school teacher who retired.

• Replacing an elementary teacher who retired with a laid-off teacher.

• Sharing the costs of a computer network technician with Whiteford Agricultural Schools.

• Eliminating Mr. Hewitt's $1,500 annual car allowance.

The cuts were made in anticipation of a $165 cut in per-pupil funding the district receives from the state.

The district projects a loss of about 20 students from the previous year.

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