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Posted May 27, 2009 | Copyright © The Northern Virginia Daily
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Districts concerned about changes to programs

By Alex Bridges -- abridges@nvdaily.com

WINCHESTER -- A measure that keeps middle school sports alive in Frederick County may leave other jurisdictions on the sidelines.

The Frederick County School Board endorsed a recommendation by Superintendent Patricia Taylor at its meeting May 19 to use $100,000 allocated for middle school sports and retain the program as it exists. However, under the proposal crafted by a committee formed to address the matter, competition cheerleading would become sideline cheerleading, according to a division press release. The money would fund supplemental wages for coaches at a reduced scale.

The option as backed by the board reduces the game and event schedule to competition among Frederick County schools, the release states. But officials said Northern Valley Junior League teams willing to travel to play in the county could fill open dates on the schedule.

Winchester Public Schools Superintendent Dennis Kellison advised his board of this possible direction at a recent meeting, noting then that the middle school sports issue "is back up in the air a little bit." League officials reported the Frederick County teams may compete among themselves and not with schools in other districts, Kellison said.

"While there may be an opportunity for us to travel to a couple of games there, that's kind of all in limbo right now," Kellison said.

The situation in Frederick County may put Clarke County's middle school sports program back in limbo, Kellison told the board.

"Is it [at] all possible to talk with Frederick County and suggest that even with the economy the way it is, if we could at least form a league with Clarke and Winchester schools involved?" board member N. Randolph Bryant asked, adding that "the travel is not that great."

Kellison indicated discussions were under way about the matter.

The potential cut of middle school sports in Frederick County also caused concern for Clarke County as its officials and board at one point considered reducing the funding of its program. Funding was restored to the program in the fiscal 2010 budget as approved by the Board of Supervisors.

For Frederick County, the length of sports seasons and number of games will be reduced, but officials will either lengthen tryout periods or hold an intramural session before or after the season to let more students participate, the release states.

The option backed by the board shifts expenses such as supplies, uniforms, equipment, officials, non-coaching personnel and publications/programs to school-level activity accounts.

In turn, it cuts the student activities assistant position at each middle school.

The superintendent set up the committee and asked its members to come up with options to reflect a cut in middle-school sports spending from $296,000 to $100,000 for fiscal 2010.

The committee did not suggest charging fees for student activities, but Taylor indicated the matter may come up again.

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