Friday, March 19, 2004

Group steps up for extracurriculars

Fairfield cuts budget; volunteers
offer pay-to-play

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer contributor

FAIRFIELD - Tom Spenceley made a pledge to the Fairfield Board of Education Thursday: If the board would allow his group to operate a pay-to-participate program, he would guarantee a cadre of volunteers to work on the next levy campaign.

That pledge was made after the board voted to eliminate all after-school sports, clubs and organizations effective July 1. An operating levy that would have brought in $9.1 million a year was defeated by voters March 2.

"Our family knows the benefits of extracurriculars and we want to make sure other families have that same opportunity,'' said Spenceley, whose three children are Fairfield High School graduates.

Spenceley is chairman of the newly formed PACE - Promoting Activities for a Complete Education. Its 10-member steering committee told the board - and nearly 900 who jammed the school's performing arts center and nearby community room - it would put together a plan to reinstate all after-school activities now offered in grades 7-12.

Further, he said his group would assist students who couldn't afford whatever fee is established. The organization would conduct fund-raisers and assist in voter registration and other levy-related activities, Spenceley said.

"We'll be meeting with administrators to find out exactly what the costs are,'' Spenceley said. "We'd assume all costs as defined by them."

Late Thursday, dozens of speakers addressed the board on issues involving the levy's defeat and PACE's proposal. The board will discuss the proposal April 1.

Both the athletic Boosters and Tempo Club - which supports music programs - are represented on PACE, Spenceley said.

The board also voted to freeze all salaries, eliminate bus transportation for grades 9-12, close the buildings when classes end except for latchkey programs, impose a $50 annual instructional materials fee in grades K-6, end field trips and eliminate building checks by custodians.

Those measures would take effect for the 2004-2005 school year.

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