As the new school year begins in the Akron Public Schools district middle school sports has been canceled for the first time. Such sports as volleyball, soccer, basketball, and wrestling fell victim to some 22-million dollars in budget cuts the Akron Board Of Education made over the past year to make up for a budget shortfall it hopes will be eased by voters passage of a 7.9 mill levy on the November ballot.
APS Athletics Manager Joe Howard is already hearing from middle school and student-athletes. "We've gotten several phone calls questioning what we're doing, and we have several groups within the community that are starting to work together to try and put together some middle school athletic programs. There's nothing set in stone at this point," says Howard.
Joe Howard tells AkronNewsNow.com any teams that would be organized would operate as "club teams" not subject to Ohio High School Athletic Association rules since the teams would not be funded by the school district.
Howard says there are several options being considered. " There are options out there. There are different sports leagues within the city and Summit County right now. I encourage these parents. I give them a phone number and try to get them to contact some of these individuals."
Howard says there are various baseball, soccer and other sports associations that could put together teams for middle age school students.
Joe Howard says several Akron high school basketball coaches are getting involved to try and help middle school players to stay on the court. " I know a couple of our high school coaches are working and have established over the years local club teams, and they're working to get these students involved with those programs now as well," says Howard.
If the levy fails this fall would high school sports be next on the chopping block ? Howard says he's heard no discussion yet of curtailing or cutting high school sports.