For the time being, seven Akron (Ohio) public schools will be playing sports during the upcoming high school season. But after that, things are up in the air, after the Akron Board of Education voted unanimously on Wednesday to place a 7.9-mill operating levy on the ballot that would require the average homeowner to pay approximately $15 a month to keep high school sports alive in Akron.
According to Akron.com and other news outlet in the area, the district has already made more than $22 million in cut this year, eliminating 200 positions, including 84 teacher slots. With more cuts needed to close the budget gap, the next step for Superintendent David James is to consider cutting all high school sports from Akron's seven schools.
Middle school sports have already been eliminated from the district, and James looking to make another $20 million in budgets cuts.
"We can't do this work by ourselves — we need the community's help," James told Akron.com. "We've worked hard making cuts. The next round would have to be drastic and severe. I don't know if we could come up with enough cuts without new money."
It's shocking to think of a major public school district eliminating sports altogether, but Akron is facing a serious budget crisis that likely isn't going away anytime soon. If voters don't approve the new operating levy, that would likely be the final nail in the coffin for Akron's sports programs.
The situation is unfortunate, but Akron isn't the first district to face a do-or-die situation. It's just unfortunate that financial problems could end up costing high school athletes in the district the chance to play the the sport (or sports) they love.
There's still a vote to be made so this story could have a happy ending, but for the moment, Akron's public schools have to play the waiting game and hope voters within the district step up and pass the new levy.
"It's just something for us to do," Akron (Ohio) Firestone High volleyball player Samantha Sebree told Onntv.com. "It really does keep some of us off the streets, because in the worst neighborhoods, sports is the outlet."