By Timothy Cox
COLDWATER -- The gymnastics program at Coldwater Exempted Village Schools is facing an uncertain future.
School district officials discussed the issue at Tuesday's special meeting but delayed making a decision on the future of the program until the May 11 regular meeting.
A couple of financial issues are driving the discussion of cutting the gymnastics program. Equipment costs are not cheap and the only other two schools in the area that have their own programs have decided to scrap them, Superintendent Rich Seas said.
Seventeen girls participated in Coldwater's gymnastics program this school year. The team has a head coach and assistant coach paid by the district.
Delphos St. John's and Columbus Grove high schools recently dropped their gymnastics programs, Seas said. Those schools were on Coldwater's limited schedule, which means Cavalier gymnasts would be facing even longer road trips next year to compete in a similar schedule. With the exit of St. John's from gymnastics, no Midwest Athletic Conference schools have a gymnastics program. Seas admitted the critical issues in deciding whether the program survives are "money and scheduling."
"The discussion about the gymnastics program was based on a couple concerns: scheduling teams to compete against, and the investment the athletic program needs to put into the future (facilities, uniforms, equipment, travel) of the gymnastics program," Seas said.
Seas praised head coach Jane Diller and her long-time guidance of the program. He said her efforts make the school board's decision even more difficult.
Also Tuesday, school board members joined the ranks of others in the area to reduce staffing for the next school year due to declining enrollment and shrinking finances. Board members approved eliminating the position of fifth-grade teacher Aaron Weigel and let the contracts of bus drivers Ken Siefring and Gary Stelzer lapse. Another elementary teaching position that will be vacant at the end of the year will not be filled.
"The reason for the RIF (reduction-in-force) was to address the declining enrollment in two of the lower grades and to eliminate a bus route. One classroom position was eliminated through attrition and the other position had to be eliminated through reduction in force ... It's the only responsible and accountable thing to do," Seas said.
Board members also learned Tuesday their decision to seek new bids for the technology equipment for the expansion and renovation project paid off. Sun Technology, Chagrin Falls, won the contract for about $230,000, about $20,000 less than estimated. Board members had rejected a prior set of bids because the bid language required contractors to be within a 100-mile radius of the school. The apparent low bidder was not that close, so board members started over.
They had feared that rebidding would result in higher prices, but that proved not to be the case.
"There was some hesitation in the rebid, but it worked out well for us," Seas said.
All other construction contracts have been awarded for the district's estimated $30.5 million renovation project scheduled for completion in the fall of 2006.