JERSEY SHORE - Thanks to the support of a group of parents, the Jersey Shore Middle School cheerleading team will have a season this year after a grievance by the district's education association threatened it earlier this summer.
At Monday's school board meeting, it voted unanimously to allow donations and payments from the parents to be accepted to pay for the team's head coach.
When the district decided to cut its middle school cheerleading, golf and cross-country teams a couple of years ago, the district provided a stipend for head coaches but not any other financial support.
Further budget restraints this year forced the district to stop funding compensation for the coaches.
According to Chad Haight, whose daughter is a member of the cheer squad, the district told parents the sports teams were allowed to continue if they could find volunteer coaches. Haight said parents were able to find individuals to fill those positions.
"This year they needed new coaches so (the parents) went and found new coaches," Haight explained.
As the school board was prepared to approve the volunteer coaches earlier this summer, the district's education association warned that if approved, it would follow through with a grievance process that was under way against the district.
"The association filed a grievance due to contract language," Richard Emery, superintendent, explained.
Emery said the district must compensate head coaches according to the agreement with the education association.
Since the district cannot fund a coaching salary for the three programs, it was up to parents and the community to do so if they would have liked to see them continue.
"I'm not sure at this point (how the programs can continue). The only way I see that is if the boosters came up with the money to pay the stipend," said Emery earlier in the summer on the three sports programs.
Haight said his daughter was "absolutely heart broken," because she wasn't going to be able to participate in cheerleading this fall. Haight said at Monday's meeting that the cheerleading team was fundraising or would have each participant pay $100 to be on the squad, to pay a coach.
Emery later said that if the other two teams wanted to do so, they also could raise the funds to pay a head coach.
"I would say at least between three sports, 30, 40 kids are being thrown out," Haight said. "I'm not trying to create this big, crazy stink but I think it needs some attention."