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D-200 to consider reinstating B-teams

WHEATON – One of the most controversial cuts to the budget of Community Unit School District 200 in recent years will soon be re-evaluated by the Board of Education.

B-team sports at the middle school level were among the programs and services removed as part of a large cost-saving effort in July 2010. While some saw it as a necessary evil at a time when the district was facing a multi-million dollar deficit, unrest about the lack of B-teams has grown as financial order has been restored to the district.

Now, District 200 is again examining the programs after the conference in which district schools played was dissolved in part because of the issue.

Superintendent Brian Harris said district staff were putting together a proposal to be presented at the Jan. 8 board meeting partially based on parent responses to an online survey sent out on the topic before Thanksgiving.

Harris said district officials have received a large number of emails and feedback recently from parents about B-teams.

"I can assure you that our middle school staff are very concerned about that as well and want to provide the best opportunities we can afford to do and provide at that level," he said.

The outcome of the January meeting may not be a formal vote, Harris said, but it will likely yield board input on any actions the district might take to include a B-team reinstatement in next year's budget. Returning B-teams to the district would create an ongoing cost board members should not take lightly, according to Harris.

"It's a revenue issue, and it's a long-term, it's an annual cost," he said.

On the short-term future of middle school teams in the district, Harris said he and the schools' principals and athletic directors were confident they would still have a full schedule.

Board member Brad Paulsen said that during a recent Illinois Association of School Boards conference, he attended a session on middle school sports.

"It was a good reminder, we've all known about it and we've read about it and gotten emails, but middle school sports is not about winning," he said.

Instead, he said, they extend the classroom by teaching physical and social lessons to children.

Pam Nielsen, a district parent who supports the reinstatement of B-teams, said she was glad the district was addressing the subject. While she cautioned the board about moving the cost burden onto the schools, she said the teams were important.

"[Kids] are getting older earlier, and I feel like we can't wait until high school to have all these great opportunities for kids," she said. "Middle school is really tough right now, and I feel like we need more outlets and activities for the kids to take care of that."

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