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Article updated: 1/10/2014 4:22 PM

Dist. 200 board weighs reinstating B teams

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While Wheaton Warrenville Unit District 200 school board members, middle school principals and parents agree it would be nice to reinstate B team sports that were cut four years ago, questions remain about funding for such programs.

In 2010, the girl's volleyball and boy's and girl's basketball B teams were eliminated at Edison, Franklin, Hubble and Monroe middle schools as part of nearly $1.9 million in budget cuts by the district at the middle school level.

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Such teams provided students who didn't make the first cut in those sports to play on another team -- a concept similar to high school varsity and junior varsity teams.

"It was a very emotional budget cut back in the day," Hubble Middle School Principal Beth Sullivan said. Eliminating the B teams saved the district about $150,000 a year.

On Wednesday, the middle school principals presented the board with three options to address the B team situation.

The schools currently limit the girl's seventh- and eighth -grade volleyball teams to 15 players and the seventh- and eighth-grade boy's and girl's basketball teams to 12 players.

Sports at the school that allow every student who tries out to be on the team include cross country, wrestling and track.

In November, a survey was sent to the families of roughly 3,300 middle school students that asked what they thought of re-establishing B teams.

Of the 779 respondents, 91 percent said they support adding the teams; 79 percent said they would support higher athletic fees to bring the teams back; and 83 percent said they would support a new $10 intramural fee, too.

Two parents at Wednesday's meeting also said they want B teams reinstated.

Moving forward, officials said the first option would be to not reinstate the teams, but review all 2010 cuts and consider expanding intramural programs at the schools.

The second would reinstate the B teams as they were before, but raise the athletic participation fee for all athletes to $238 per sport. The estimated reinstatement costs with the second option would be about $163,000, which includes roughly $100,000 to cover stipends for six coaches at each school and nearly $26,000 for transportation to games.

The third would be to reinstate the teams as before and add soccer and boy's volleyball at the schools. That would result in a total reinstatement cost of more than $307,000, which would include $200,000 to cover stipends for 12 coaches at each school. Fees also would be increased to $292 per sport.

"I believe we do need to try and figure out a way to bring these things back," Superintendent Brian Harris said.

"When kids participate in schools, no matter what they participate in -- whether it's interscholastic sports, intramural sports or clubs -- they're going to be more successful in the classrooms and it definitely has a positive impact," he said.

The principals concluded their presentation by saying they favor providing new opportunities for students, but are hesitant to recommend reinstating the B teams.

"One difficulty with (reinstating B teams) is looking at it in isolation. There are so many other considerations," Hubble's Sullivan said, adding that class size, technology, facility improvements and professional development also are important. "At this point in time, maybe we're taking the backward way out, we're strictly asking that the board and community look at all of our budget issues in totality before we start adding something back."

The board plans to discuss the issue again at a February board meeting.

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