Park District won’t partner with school sports
From staff reports
Rockford Public School District 205 will now attempt to find a way to offer athletics at a lower cost for the 2011-12 school year after it was announced a proposed partnership between District 205 and the Rockford Park District will not happen.
District 205 Superintendent Dr. LaVonne M. Sheffield and Rockford Park District Executive Director Tim Dimke announced at a press conference March 10 that discussion about the partnership has ended.
It had been estimated the Park District would spend around $2.4 million on the athletics programs, whereas the school district pays around $3 million per year on athletics. However, according to a press release, the partnership would not provide “the desired level of cost savings.”
District 205 would have reimbursed the Park District for the expenses under the partnership.
School and parks officials have been discussing a possible partnership since January as District 205 attempts to close a projected $50 million budget shortfall for the 2011-12 school year.
Following is the text of a press release issued March 10.
School, Park Districts Announce Outcome of Sports Partnership Exploration
Rockford Public Schools Superintendent LaVonne M. Sheffield and Rockford Park District Executive Director Tim Dimke announced today that they are suspending discussions about a partnership to provide school athletics and that operation of extracurricular sports will remain within the schools for the coming year.
The decision to discontinue talks comes after a series of public meetings and extensive study of various aspects of the possible collaboration. Although the concept earned a favorable review by the Illinois High School Association, which governs competitive 9th- through 12th-grade sports, a financial analysis determined the partnership isn’t likely to produce the desired level of cost savings.
Estimates are that the Park District would spend as much as $2.4 million to operate elementary, middle and high school sports programs, compared to the current $3 million cost. Under the proposed concept, the School District would have reimbursed the Park District for its expenses. The estimated cost of providing athletics through the Park District includes a $173,000 bond payment for artificial turf installation at two high school stadiums.
“Our financial circumstances still dictate that Rockford Public Schools explores any and all partnerships that might allow us to provide nonacademic services more affordably,” Dr. Sheffield said. “We were attempting to break new ground in Illinois, and that was recognized across the state. Our work with the Park District continues on many other fronts. At the same time, we are finalizing plans to administer athletics at a reduced cost so that competitive sports can continue without placing an undue burden on our budget for 2011-2012.”
School and park officials anticipate teaming up again this summer to provide an expanded number of academic, athletic and arts opportunities for students. Through the use of federal funding, nearly 1,000 students participated in last year’s Summer Challenge at no charge.
“Exploring this potential shift in sports management provided both organizations with incredible insight about our community’s sports systems. The passion and commitment demonstrated by the coaches, parents and athletes from the elementary through the high schools level was truly inspiring,” Dimke said.
“Over 20 community meetings were held, and these were learning experiences that brought forward ideas for sharing resources and training support. Program gaps between recreational programming and competitive school athletics became apparent, and the Park District will be working with the school officials and community partners to meet those unfilled needs.”
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