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Crouch: Rumors of Sunnyside sports cuts are malicious

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Crouch: Rumors of Sunnyside sports cuts are malicious

A retaliatory rumor was started this week that stated that I, Buck Crouch, wanted to do away with all sports in the Sunnyside Unified School District. The malicious rumor is false. Let's look at my record.

I have never been considered a sports enthusiast, but I am not anti-sports. In high school, I was more a nerd, into chemistry, physics, and math. Although I was not a jock, I went to games to watch and enjoy. I still do. I try to make it to as many games and matches as I can. I go to the games to support our student athletes.

When the SUSD board was making budget cuts last year, I proposed a 5.25 percent cut for athletics programs, cutting $100,000 out of a $1,900,000 budget. I suggested that we remove one of the three athletic director positions, the one at the district level. It is far from the kids, and we have athletic directors at both high schools with major sports teams. I was shut down soundly on this proposal. I received a call from an attorney telling me to stay away from ANY cuts to athletics or face potential lawsuits.

At the same meeting, I was annoyed when the $1.9 million athletic budget was being discussed, and a proposed change of $300,000 to a funding source was being proposed. The annoyance was that the claim was made that the budget was being reduced by $300,000, when in fact the spending was still the same at $1.9 million, which is the budget. There was no reduction as was being claimed. Yes, I was annoyed.

I have also made the statement that if we are going to claim in the override justification literature that the high school and middle school athletics programs are at risk if we don't pass the override, then we need to be prepared to make those cuts. We made the claim for the 2011 and 2012 override elections and are making the claim for the 2013 election. If athletics are so sacred as evidenced by the past actions, then I was questioning if we were going to follow through and cut it or were these it just idle threats, again?

When we were debating whether to cut elementary PE classes, which impact 100 percent of the children in elementary schools, I strongly supported keeping the PE programs alive. I think it is vital at that age to have the programs. The same goes for middle school. In high school it is sometimes a farce, with students not wanting to dress out or be active. The athletic programs beyond PE at the high school only touch a very small percentage of the students, 20 percent at most, more likely about 10 percent. I did question the proposal to put $200,000 into scoreboards at the two high school football fields. I also voted for the scoreboards after considering the arguments presented.

We have made very deep cuts to other areas of the schools. The arts and music programs have been slashed. Class sizes have increased to what I think are unacceptable levels at all of our schools. I was in a middle school STEM class with 39 students last week, far too many to teach effectively. As a side note, I was very impressed with the students probing questions and intelligent responses to my questions. They were very enthusiastic and polite.

We need balance in these times of school financial crisis. Athletics are important, but so are the arts, music, science, math, language arts, social studies and physical education.

I think if you look at my record or if you talk to me, you will find I do NOT want to eliminate the sports programs at Sunnyside schools. I do want to have them balanced with the rest of the programs.

Buck Crouch is a member of the Sunnyside Unified School District Governing Board. He has an MBA from the University of Arizona, is a business professor at NAU, a Sunnyside alumnus and a native of the community. He is a business owner and an expert on operations, supply chain and logistics management.

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