Some School Clubs Restored, Others Remain in Limbo
Board of Ed reactivates three canceled clubs as other students wait for their groups to return.
For the Montville Township School District, eliminating extracurricular activities at all levels of public schooling is a reality of operating under difficult budget constraints.
At the high school level alone, the district eliminated 13 clubs to cut costs for the school year. One of the clubs eliminated was the Make-a-Wish organization, a group that Montville High School senior Dianna Saccomano was looking forward to being the co-president of.
"I was very disappointed to learn on the first day of school, when I went to [the club's advisor] and she said 'haven't you heard, the club has been cut,'" she said. "We were unaware of it. No e-mail, no letter, nothing like that."
According to Saccomano, the group has raised more than $18,000 for charity since its inception. She was unhappy that her group, which she described as "so passionate," would not be part of the high school's offered clubs in the 2010-2011 school year.
"We had plans to move forward with a lot of the fundraisers we had been doing," she said. "I was really disappointed to hear it was cut, especially considering that we were so successful."
According to Superintendent Dr. Paul Fried, the decision to cut clubs is not one that the district was happy to make.
"We all feel very badly that some clubs had to be eliminated for this year," he said at the Board of Education's Oct. 5 meeting. "I know it's a struggle to choose…one club over the other, and it doesn't mean we value one over another, but decisions had to be made."
According to Fried, the decisions of which clubs would be offered came as a result from input from the high school's administration. Fried said he relied on input from interim high school Principal Dr. Frank Calabria.
Fried did say at the same meeting, however, that some clubs originally cut would be reinstated at the high school. Future Educators, International Concerns and Environmental Club were all reactivated at the Oct. 5 meeting.
"We're very pleased that the board is able to restore those clubs," he said.
According to Fried, the reinstated clubs came as a result of cooperation between the Board of Education and the teacher's union. He said that the two bodies were able to come to an agreement to make stipends that would have originally paid for two clubs cover all three groups instead.
At the meeting, Board President Dr. Karen Cortellino praised Fried and the teacher's union for the cooperation.
"We're very thankful to Dr. Fried who has worked very hard to bring back three clubs instead of two," she said. "We want to thank the teacher's union for being able to bring back three."
While the reinstated clubs will no doubt come as good news to its members, parents at other schools are still waiting for programs to come back. Margaret Gorski, the executive vice president of the Woodmont Elementary PTA, said at the meeting that she would be interested in seeing a similar re-establishment of clubs at her school.
"It's fallen to the PTA to find a way," she said. "I'm interested to hear that there are ways stipends could be adjusted to bring back programs our students so desperately want."
Montville Patch will be meeting with members of the three restored clubs at Montville High School this Wednesday. However, at this time there is no word as to what will happen to Saccomano's Make-a-Wish club, a group she feels was not an extreme financial burden.
"Outside of the teacher stipend, the advisor stipend, we do not spend any of the school's money," she said.
"EduNation: A Patch Report on Our Schools" is a nationwide Patch series probing the economy's effect on our schools. For more information, see here.