When Herrin High School soccer players take the field next school year, they will be wearing the orange and blue of Carterville High School after Herrin Unit School District 4 board voted to accept a co-op agreement with Carterville rather than hosting the co-op at Herrin.
Herrin had a two-year co-op agreement with Carterville High School for soccer, and the agreement expired at the end of the school year.
A small crowd had gathered at the meeting, many to specifically hear what the board was going to do with the high school soccer program. No one chose to speak during the public comment period, which comes at the beginning of the meeting before the board takes any action or discusses any issue, but did speak later in the meeting.
Superintendent Terry Ryker told the crowd that the upcoming school year was going to be a tight year. If the state does not release some of the money it owes the school district, the district will run out of money in mid-November. He estimates that they will have to cut between $330,000 and $350,000 next year to come close to the $450,000 deficit that is expected.
School board members were given a list of cuts and fees as part of their packets for the meeting. The list was not made available to the public or media. Some items “on the list” that were mentioned specifically in the meeting include:
- Regular season athletic travel, hotels and meals. The school will approve travel to state at the sectional level and above.
- Cut the travel, lodging and meals for the dance teams, except to compete in IHSA state events. In order to compete in Illinois Dance Team Association state events, they will have to raise the money.
- Athletic stipends for several coaches at the high school and junior high levels, including one coach each for girls and boys basketball, baseball and softball, among others.
- Eliminating bass fishing at Herrin High School.
- Allow Carterville to host boys’ and girls; soccer or eliminate the program altogether.
- Increase admission fees to ballgames by $1.
- Charge a participation fee of $50 for sports, with a $100 maximum per family. Unlike most neighboring districts, Herrin does not have a fee to participate in sports.
- Cut two resource officer positions.
- Adding fees for academic teams, like Scholar Bowl and math team.
- Cut paid travel for administrators.
Ryker said he really does not want to cut anything, but the district already does not provide supplies teachers need for their classes. Greg Wanstreet, president of Herrin Education Association said teachers don’t have textbooks for many classes, including algebra I that he will teach next year.
“I wish we had the funds to keep all these things, but we are going to run out of money,” Ryker said.
Michael Dean, who coaches a junior high soccer program, asked if he could ask a question and said several people wanted to make input on the soccer program. Ryker explained that the time for public comment was at the beginning of the meeting; however, the board agreed to hear comments from the audience.
Several parents spoke about their willingness to help raise money to support the program.
“I’m convinced there is no money out there,” Kay said. “I’m incredibly sympathetic to your cause.”
The option of allowing Carterville to host the program would be a two-year agreement. At the end of two years, the board would take another look at soccer. If they felt it was sustainable, they could reinstate the program.
Athletic director Mike Mooneyham said they would have to be self-sufficient for the program to be reinstated.
After a lengthy discussion about soccer, there was talk of tabling the issue, and the board moved on. Many parents thought the issue was tabled, but it was not.
The board came out of executive session and took action on several staff appointments, resignations and retirements. Then, they got back to the issue of cuts.
The board voted unanimously to adopt the list of budget cuts and revenue increases as proposed, pending a state budget passing.
They also voted unanimously to accept a soccer program co-op, to be reevaluated at the end of the agreement to see if the program was viable for Herrin.
“My goal is to get it back and get it self-sufficient,” Ryker said after the meeting.
Herrin school board will meet next at 5 p.m. July 11 at the district office.