Groton student athletes may have to pay to play

New London

GROTON, Conn. (WTNH) — Students on the playing field and off could be taking some hard hits with this year’s budget.

Dr. Michael Graner showed News8 a list of possible cuts starting with the closing of Pleasant Valley Elementary School along with cutting teachers, support staff, and programs which often help the most vulnerable.

“It would move the instruction to larger group which is exactly what we don’t want to do,” said Dr. Graner.

Along with what he calls level one cuts he also identified level two cuts and level three.

“So that brought us to $4,538,000,” said Dr. Graner.

Still that’s short of the $5.2 million he was tasked with cutting. The level three cuts include eliminating interscholastic sports in middle schools and requiring high school students to pay to play. A hundred dollars a sport but they’d be charged for no more than two even if they played three sports.

“A lot of people aren’t going to have the money to afford to pay for kids who do after school sports and stuff ya know,” said Groton parent Ramone White.

A retired teacher who spoke with News8 did not want to be identified. “I have three grand kids who live in town and I worry about them,” she said.

The superintendent is hoping to reach a compromise with the town council like cutting the cuts in half.

“Just do level one and don’t do level two and level three,” said Dr. Graner who then made a sign of the cross.

A Hail Mary pass he hopes will be caught.

“I’ve been a lifelong athlete this is… it’s a bad idea. It’s a really bad idea,” said Dr. Graner. “But like I say you can’t cut five million dollars from a school system and not have really negative impacts.”

The superintendent is meeting again with the town council Friday night and wants to hear what the difference is between the tax hike everyone is going to see with the full $5-million in cuts and what the tax hike would be with a compromise.

He’s hoping if the difference is less than $100 then tax payers would be willing to pay it to support a compromise which would lessen school cuts.

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