More than 50 middle school cheerleaders and parents waved banners and spoke at the West York school board meeting Tuesday to plead with board members to restore the programs cut from the school in February.
And their efforts might have succeeded. By the end of the meeting, Superintendent Emilie Lonardi said she would go back to the board and discuss whether keeping the middle school football, wrestling and basketball programs is an option for future years.
Lonardi said that was because of a clarification West York Boys Club president Eric Pomeroy made during public comment: The club would fund the program, but the coaches and program would stay under the oversight of the school district.
"Tonight I heard your coaches, your program, we'll pay," Lonardi said. "If that's true, we're good."
Lonardi said in past months, she and the board thought the club's coaches would take over the program but keep the middle school name, which could cause conflicts if discipline or academic issues arose.
Tuesday, Pomeroy said the program would stay the same. "We're just talking about throwing money into it," he said.
The cost: At the last board meeting, Lonardi said it costs the district $5,718 to sustain the middle school cheerleading teams. When the programs were cut in February, the district also cut the middle school cross country teams and the ninth-grade football team.
Lisa O'Brien said her family just moved into the district and her daughter, who is in seventh grade, has used sports such as cheerleading and volleyball to make friends. O'Brien said she's concerned other cuts could happen and give her daughter even fewer options.
"You're cutting all these girls' activities," O'Brien said. "This is her first year at this school. What is there left for her to do?"
Lonardi said no other programs will be cut this year.
Funding sources: Board member Jeanne Herman said she would be open to investigating the funding more.
"If the Boys Club or parents are willing to raise money to support the squad, what is the problem with that?" she asked.
Board member Alan Moose said his only concern would be the program will need sustained funding for the foreseeable future.
"It's not likely in the future budget forecast that we can pick this back up at any point," Moose said.
Pomeroy said parents already sustain the Boys Club programs, and he doesn't believe the fundraising for the programs in future years will be a problem.
Lonardi said she will need to talk with the board before making a final call on the programs and will also need to ask the previous cheerleading coaches if they would still be willing to coach the teams.
— Reach Nikelle Snader at firstname.lastname@example.org.