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SCHOOL DISTRICT DROPS 4 SPORTS IN COST CUTS

Varsity tennis, swimming, bowling and track have been eliminated in the Lackawanna School District, where cost-cutting measures continue for the 2004-05 school year.

At their regular meeting Tuesday night, School Board members approved a list of athletic coaches and support staff. The district is retaining its football, soccer, volleyball, basketball, baseball, softball, wrestling and cheerleading programs.

The four that were eliminated had lower participation, according to School Superintendent Paul G. Hashem. And, in the case of swimming, voters' rejection of a budget proposition for pool rehabilitation also was a factor.

"We're draining the pool -- if it's not drained already," Hashem said earlier Tuesday.

Swimming program participation had been six girls and seven boys, the superintendent said, and the program cost was estimated at $16,500.

Unlike the track program, in which practices could have been held despite the track's substandard condition, there wouldn't be a swimming pool available for the swimmers' practices, Hashem said.

The estimated $47,000 that will be saved on the four sports programs reflects the cost of coaches' salaries; contractual expenses, such as bowling alley rental; materials and supplies; and transportation.

According to Hashem, just five girls and 10 boys were involved in the tennis program, which cost an estimated $6,700; bowling drew 11 girls and 16 boys and cost $10,600; and track involved 10 girls and 19 boys and cost $13,200.

"What we're hoping . . . some of the coaches that are being eliminated may be reinstated through fund-raising with parent groups," Hashem said.

And the budget ax hasn't been sheathed yet. Officials still are looking for ways to ease a projected shortfall of several hundred thousand dollars in the contingency budget adopted last month.

Principals will be looking at after-school programs, with the goal of eliminating several advisory positions. Again, the criteria for elimination will include student participation.

Also, district officials are considering other staffing cuts. Tuesday night, School Board members voted to abolish the jobs of a full-time speech teacher and a part-time social worker.

"We have some decisions to make between now and Aug. 1," in order to give 30 days' notice to teachers who may be let go, Hashem said.

e-mail: jhabuda@buffnews.com

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