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By PAMELA GOULD
Spotsylvania County's Athletics Task Force recommends the division resume activity buses and eliminate sports fees as soon as the county can afford those steps.
Task force members reported to the School Board at Monday's meeting and said increased safety measures should be included whenever the buses resume operation.
The buses were eliminated as part of budget cuts starting with the 2009-10 school year.
Spotsylvania High School Principal Rusty Davis and Courtland High School Athletic Director Ronnie Lowman presented the task force report to the board.
Former Superintendent Shelley Redinger established the task force last fall. Its purpose is to address all issues related to sports.
Monday night, Davis and Lowman said that participation in sports "remains steady" at both the middle and high school levels despite the $100 fee per student per sport instituted in the 2010-11 school year.
They did not provide any data on participation. However, Davis said it has increased at his school.
They said the fees can't be dropped for the 2012-13 school year because of budget constraints but recommended the fees be evaluated as the board crafts the fiscal 2014 budget. Fiscal 2013 began July 1.
Unless outside funding is found, the division doesn't have the money to begin reinstating winter track or adding other sports, Davis and Lowman said. Davis said it would cost about $17,500 for winter track.
The pair also reported that Spotsylvania's coaching stipends aren't competitive with other area school divisions and should be restored to fiscal 2010 levels as soon as possible. Coaches lost 10 percent of their stipends each of the past two years.
Board members Ray Lora and Amanda Blalock expressed support for restoring the coaching stipends as soon as possible.
However, board member Gil Seaux cautioned against "building rising expectations we can't deliver."
The task force is also addressing other issues, including creating a pool of substitute athletic trainers and evaluating participation of sixth-graders in middle school sports and eighth-graders in high school sports.
The task force will continue meeting in the coming school year. Anyone wishing to provide input can contact task force members. The task force is composed of all of the middle and high school principals and athletic directors. The group's next meeting is Aug. 9.
Pamela Gould: 540/735-1972