Ann Arbor school district prepares to announce cuts to high school sports
UPDATE 11:59 a.m. June 25: Ann Arbor schools slashing freshman sports teams, cutting funding to several other programs
Ann Arbor Public Schools is preparing an announcement on how it will cut $475,000 from high school sports, according to district officials.
District spokewoman Liz Margolis said the district will not release details on what the changes will be until Ann Arbor school board trustees are informed. When reached by AnnArbor.com on Friday afternoon, Trustee Christine Stead said she hadn’t been informed of any details regarding high school sports.
“I do remember seeing some reductions to athletics in the proposed budget; what we don’t know is specifically what that means,” Stead said. “The board has not been briefed about the specific level of detail.”
High school athletics will receive $475,000 less than in 2010-11, according to the budget passed by trustees on June 8.
Margolis said interim Superintendent Robert Allen asked the athletic directors at the three high schools to work cooperatively to identify $475,000 in cuts.
“They worked all three together and it was consistent across the board,” Margolis said. “The three schools worked together to ensure consistency.”
She said a public announcements on the cuts could come as soon as Saturday.
An email shared with AnnArbor.com shows one parent asking school board President Deb Mexicotte if men’s and women’s lacrosse may be moved from a varsity sport to a club sport. In addition, district officials have been asked whether ninth-grade teams will be cut from the athletic offerings.
Mexicotte said Friday she had been on vacation all week and had no knowledge of any details of what could be changed in the high school athletics budget.
Rex Stanczak, varsity basketball coach at Pioneer High School, said he's been trying to think of different ways to adjust his program since he first started hearing rumors about cuts last week. He said not having a freshman team would mean many players losing out on learning how to be a part of the Pioneer system.
“That freshman year of development for kids in terms of understanding that it’s such a jump from middle school, understanding the commitment and all that stuff,” Stanczak said. “A few of them will make the JV, but we don’t know what we’re going to do.”
Stanczak said the freshman basketball team typically carries about 16 players and 30-40 kids will try out.
Beth Anderson, a parent of a Pioneer women’s lacrosse player, said she spoke to athletic director Lorin Cartwright earlier this week. Anderson said Cartwright was not able to confirm any of the details about what might be changing in Pioneer’s athletic department.
Anderson said if lacrosse does end up being cut from the department budget and becomes a club team, the team would survive.
“As long as it doesn’t affect how they’re playing and we can do everything we’ve done in the past as a part of the district and continue as a club, we’ll make it work,” Anderson said. “What worries me is what get cuts next year because this isn’t going to solve the problem.”
Shannon Fisher, who has a son entering Skyline High School in the fall, said she spoke to district officials Thursday and questioned why there wasn’t a public forum held to help make any decision on what the changes would be in the athletic departments. She said she was told that the high schools’ athletic directors were the best to make the decision.
“I asked if there was a reason why they didn’t have a public forum or public input or brainstorming on the programs and they told me they thought the athletic directors knew best,” she said.
Prep sports editor Pete Cunningham assisted in reporting for this story