Saxton pledges $9,000 to sportsPublished 9:43am Thursday, June 28, 2012
As parents gathered Tuesday evening to voice their concerns about a school decision made June 11 to charge athletes a $100 annual fee to play sports, Robert Saxton, of Cassopolis, vowed to donate $9,000, dropping the fee to $50 per student for the year.
Saxton’s pronouncement drew applause from the parents who had gathered in the auditorium at Ross Beatty Junior/Senior High School to meet with the school’s athletic committee and school administration officials to discuss the new fee.
“We have a dire situation we’re trying to work out, and we need your help,” Assistant Principal Hiawatha Francisco said at the beginning of the meeting.
Board Trustee Scott Ward explained the school’s athletic department needed to cut $38,000 from its budget for next year. The athletic committee, along with the board, decided to vote against cutting specific sports and, instead, institute a fee.
After making cuts in other areas, Ward said the budget still needed to be reduced further.
“We were left with an $18,000 hole for the school year in athletics,” Ward said.
Beyond Saxton’s surprise donation in the middle of the meeting, other community members also have jumped at the chance to support the athletes.
“I was shocked when he told me,” Francisco said. “I looked at him and asked, ‘Are you serious?’”
Saxton said he will donate the funding some time next week.
Ward also said other community entities have decided to form fundraising opportunities.
“We had a tremendous public outpouring,” Ward said. “An awful lot of people have stepped up, saying ‘Hey, what if we did a fundraiser?’”
Fundraising activities discussed included a golf outing, a reverse raffle, a crew of student athletes who would clean up after the Cass County Fair, a hog roast and a 50/50 drawing during football games.
Many parents spoke up about the fee, clarifying details and asking what can be done to either lower, or eliminate, the fee through fundraising. Other parents also voiced concerns on knowing when and where fundraising opportunities will be scheduled so the parents and athletes can take advantage and become involved.
Ward said that administration can put information about the athletic fee, requirements and fundraising opportunities into the instant alert system so parents can be kept updated.
Another meeting for parents is scheduled for 4 p.m. Monday in the main office of Ross Beatty Junior/Senior High School.