Parent booster clubs in the Palmerton Area School District remain bound and determined to raise enough money to save several athletic programs from the chopping block.
With that thought in mind, the Save Our Sports kick-off fundraiser will be held today at 4 o'clock in the borough park to collect donations as part of a continued effort to negate a potential 25-percent cut to various sports programs in the district's 2011-12 budget.
At present, the clubs still need to come up with $25,000 to reach their desired goal of $65,000, said Tiffani Christman, president of the Palmerton Youth Wrestling Cheerleaders Association.
"It is our hope that you will partner with us in this community effort to help fund essential programs and services right here in your own back yard," Christman said. "With your help, it will be a record-breaking event, bringing us closer together as a community to support our kids."
Christman said donations can be mailed to the various parents' clubs. The deadline to turn in commitments is May 16. Anyone with questions may email Christman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The fundraiser is in response to a list of athletic programs that loom as potential cuts from next year's budget: wrestling, cross country, boys' and girls' soccer, golf, tennis and swimming at the high school level, along with wrestling and cross country at the junior high level.
Those proposed athletic program cuts resulted in a protest this past Monday that saw residents, athletes and others gather outside the Parkside Education Center before an executive session conducted by the school board.
Christman suggested to the board at a special meeting this past Tuesday, that rather than eliminate those sports programs, it should cut funds to each program by 25 percent.
In turn, Christman told the board she was confident the parent booster clubs could come up with the approximate $72,000 needed to save the sports programs from being cut out of next year's spending plan.
Board President Barry Scherer said at that time the board would reinstitute the athletic programs if the clubs were able to come up with the funds to support it.
It was noted that in order for the district to remain in the Colonial League, it must have 70 percent participation in sporting events. Otherwise, it would have to be part of an independent league.
Superintendent Carol Boyce said the district must be in accordance with Title 9, which says it must balance opportunities for both boys and girls.
At a committee workshop that followed the board meeting this past Tuesday, the board discussed a Pay to Play scenario, in which it would cost a student $50 to participate in a sport, $100 maximum per year, and a family maximum of $250.
Earlier at the special meeting, the board unanimously agreed to adopt a resolution to send program changes to the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
Boyce said the proposal would cut about 10.5 teaching positions and reduce several extracurricular and athletic programs. Those cuts in teaching staff included kindergarten, English, technology, art, music, and other areas.
Scherer said the names of the people being affected by the cuts will be made public when the board meets at 7 p.m. May 17, at which time it must adopt a proposed final budget. Final adoption is due by June 30.
At present, the board has set its sights on a budget that calls for a 12.6 percent, or 5.506 mill increase. However, to arrive at that destination, the board must still come up with an additional $812,000 worth of cuts.
A 5.5 mill increase would mean a person with a home valued at $100,000 and assessed at $50,000 would pay $2,457, or $277 more in property taxes to the district next year.
The board will hold a special meeting for budget purposes at 6 p.m. May 12 in the high school auditorium.