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Washington County school budget talks include sports issues

February 22, 2008|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

WASHINGTON COUNTY - Washington County Public Schools students could be given free admission to high school sporting events.

As part of its discussion Thursday about its $226.9 million draft general budget, some Board of Education members suggested eliminating the admission costs for students, and even lessening the financial burden for them to participate in sports.

Board President Roxanne R. Ober suggested increasing the amount budgeted for sports in middle and high schools.

The board voted Thursday to approve a draft of the budget that does not include those changes. The vote was 6-0, with Board Member Bernadette M. Wagner absent.Wagner said during a work session earlier that day that she was in favor of eliminating admission costs for students to attend sporting events.

She said the purpose of high school athletics is not to "generate revenue on the backs of our kids." Wagner said sports are an opportunity for students, not a money-maker for the school system.

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Board Member Wayne D. Ridenour said he would like to see students be given leeway on their ticket prices, but said more research must be done about what it would cost the school system if those fees were eliminated.

"We have to be very careful," Ridenour said.

The draft budget approved Thursday includes about $7.79 million in new money. Washington County Commissioners are the funding source for the school system and must approve the budget.

Assistant Superintendent for School Operations Boyd Michael said Thursday that what can be funded will depend on whether commissioners approve all of the requested money.

Some items included in the draft of the 2009 fiscal year general fund budget are:

· Principal for the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts - $112,959

· Electricity increase due to additional square footage and market - $254,413

· Bus assistants (increase in special needs students) - $105,273

· Annual lease payment associated with the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts - $634,704

· Upgrade to the current criminal investigation/background check system - $13,000

· Custodial positions for new and renovated schools - $189,491

· Insurance on new school buildings - $26,250

· Construction trades academy - $100,000

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