Estimates at the time put the savings at anywhere from
The proposal, raised in 2011, did not go over well.
Angry students and parents jammed
"We learned a hard lesson," Erie schools Superintendent
But that likely isn't the end of the idea.
It's all but inevitable the 12,000-student district will again have to look at eliminating or consolidating programs, said district Athletic Director
"We will have to stand before people and discuss what we're going to have to do, and everyone's not going to be happy," Dahlstrand said. "You just have to make tough decisions. That's what they pay us to do."
Dahlstrand said he and Badams have discussed options but declined to get into details, saying that some improvements called for in the district's long-term optimization plan "muddy the waters" in terms of how it might proceed with cuts. The massive restructuring plan is meant to help the district cut costs and reduce thousands of unfilled classroom seats by closing or consolidating schools.
One hypothetical solution -- combining individual programs from several schools into one districtwide team -- isn't an option, Dahlstrand said, because
"For example, we could combine our wrestling into one school," Dahlstrand said. "But we can't do it because the
"I think (the
Dahlstrand said his research shows that through co-ops the district could combine "four or five" programs -- he declined to specify which ones -- and save money while strengthening them from a competitive standpoint.
Another option is revisiting the idea of eliminating one school's sports teams altogether. In 2011, Central Tech was chosen, Badams said, because the district reasoned that students were required to apply to get in, as those who wish to attend
But with a handful of highly competitive programs -- including boys basketball, boys soccer and track and field -- and a rich history in others, including football, the proposal was met with staunch opposition.
"When we talked about cutting Central sports a few years ago, (Badams) could not run one other thing for three whole board meetings," Dahlstrand said. "Is it important? Obviously we think it is. But something has to give."
Neither Badams nor Dahlstrand is ready to say whether the district would again look at athletics at Central Tech or another school as a candidate for elimination or when it would happen.
Instead, they're hoping cost savings realized through the proposed optimization plan would help preserve what now exists and enhance programs at the middle-school levels.
But unless, and until, that happens, Badams said the district will keep all its options -- including program cuts -- on the table.
"It's sad when we have to make draconian decisions that essentially pit academics against athletics, or the arts or music," Badams said. "But those are the sorts of bad decisions that we've been forced to contend with over the past few years.
"And I don't see them getting necessarily better until some larger issues like the pension situation and school funding in general get tackled by
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