In the wake of wide-ranging program and staffing cuts made last week by the Vandalia Board of Education, the district’s booster clubs have emerged as major players in the community’s response to those cuts.
“Our goal is to support the school sports programs,” said Steve Ledbetter, president of the Vandalia Sports Boosters. “We want to fill the void where we can.”
He said that the sports booster’s concession stands and other fundraising activities generate about $35,000 to $40,000 per year, which helps provide equipment, uniforms and infrastructure projects for local sports programs.
“The consensus among our members is that we’re disappointed with the cuts, but we understand why they were made,” Ledbetter said.
“We’re encouraging our members to come to us with their ideas about what we can do as a group and as a community to respond to the cuts. But with the current income we have, we can’t tackle the $120,000 that was cut.”
The $120,000 was the amount cut by the board when it declared that the district no longer would provide transportation to away games.
The next meeting of the Vandalia Sports Boosters is Saturday, March 2, at 9 a.m. at Ponderosa Steakhouse. Ledbetter said anyone with an interest in helping the booster club respond to the cuts is invited to the meeting.
The Vandalia Band Boosters is the other club that’s come to the fore.
“We’re trying to figure out which way to go,” said Sally Zimmermann, president.
“We’re looking at grants and other creative fundraising activities. Most of our current money is going to support field shows and to buy instruments. It’s going to take a lot to raise another $55,000 to support the position they’re wanting to cut.”
The group was planning to meet at 5 p.m. Wednesday in the Vandalia Junior High School band room.
“It’s hard when so many programs are cut, because everyone is trying to raise money at the same time,” Zimmermann said.
“And some kids are in both sports and band. It’s hard on the parents to support both.”
Meanwhile, Ledbetter said that he anticipates that parents and others in the community will help.
“There’s been a lot of discussion about what should or shouldn’t have been cut,” he said. “Our position is that all sports and other activities are good things for the kids.
“We believe that everybody will step up. We look at this as a challenge,” Ledbetter said. “The people of this area have stepped up before, and we feel that they’ll do it again.”