By Jeff Gallatin
School board officials Nov. 16 formally turned back pleas by proponents of the North Olmsted High School boys club volleyball team to reinstate the program dropped earlier this year in a budget cutting move.
With about 25 parents, players and supporters at the school board meeting, the board voted not to bring back the program, which was one of several cut in the spring as part of a series of cost-saving measures instituted to deal with the ongoing budget crunch.
Those voting to not reinstate the program were Terry Groden, Tom Herbster and board President John Lasko. Mike Raig voted to reinstate it. Joann DiCarlo by her choice, fell somewhere in between. After Groden, Herbster and Raig had voted, DiCarlo asked to pass when it came to her. After verifying her request, Lasko then voted, making it three votes against reinstating the program, effectively deciding the matter. DiCarlo then asked to vote. Lasko noted to her that the “horse was out of the barn,” but let her register a vote against reinstatement.
DiCarlo said that she agreed with Raig and questioned cutting the program, but said she would vote against reinstatement to show board unity.
In supporting the move to reinstate the program, Raig said he wished he had considered the matter further in voting to cut it several months ago. He noted the boys club program only cost a little more than $3,000 annually, several thousand less than the girl’s varsity volleyball program. He also noted that the board had instituted a $75 participation fuel fee for any student participating in sports. In his motion, Raig had proposed a similar $150 fee for any club, thus making it an additional $75 for the boys club volleyball.
However, in voting against it, Groden, Herbster and Lasko all cited concerns about current and potential future costs to the district, saying losing club volleyball is part of that. They also expressed concern about setting a precedent for reinstating a program after it had been cut.
“I hate voting this way,” Groden said. “I hate having to consider moves like this, but it’s an unfortunate economic situation right now.”
Lasko said the board needed to determine whether they were considering voting to reinstate it with the board paying program costs or having the club pay its costs. He also noted that the board had sought the advice of Superintendent Cheryl Dubsky and noted that it was her recommendation several months ago to cut the program.
“We’ve discussed the matter and listened to information about it several times,” he said.
After the vote, Kathy Busse, mother of Brendan Busse, one of the teens who would have been a team captain, expressed disappointment. Both Busses have spoken at board meetings advocating keeping the program.
“Volleyball has been a part of athletics for 22 years,” she said. “Other sports at North Olmsted not sanctioned by OHSAA (Ohio High School Athletic Association) are still running and receive a varsity letter. Parents also want it made very clear the athletic director made this recommendation without contacting parents or athletes.”
In addition to the Busses, several parents and students spoke at the meeting in support of the club team. School board member-elect Linda Cleary, who will be taking Raig’s place on the board, also spoke in support of reinstating the team, saying the district could find savings elsewhere.