REGION 16 — The Board of Education reinstated the assistant cheerleading coach position at Woodland Regional High School after parents raised concerns about safety and the size of the squad became clearer.
The cheerleading squad once again has two coaches after the board put the assistant coach back into the budget for the 2013-14 school year at its June 26 meeting. The roughly $2,500 position was among cuts and reductions to the budget made by the board in June following a second failed referendum.
The position was one of three assistant coaching positions proposed to be cut due to low team enrollments by Brian Fell, athletic director and assistant principal.
The cheerleading squad has averaged about 12 girls the past couple of years.
However, Joann Bachleda, a parent of a former Woodland cheerleader, told the board 22 girls signed up for the squad in the spring and are committed to being cheerleaders.
Bachleda, who is a certified cheerleading coach, said she understands the board had to make some very difficult cuts that are necessary. She expressed concerns though about not having an assistant coach for cheerleading. She said a squad of 22 girls is too large for one person to safely coach and teach a routine.
“It’s really for me about the safety of that program and we are so excited it’s starting to grow again at Woodland,” Bachleda said.
Lori Brown, the parent of a cheerleader, echoed Bachleda’s sentiments.
Brown said having only one coach is very dangerous as the girls practice tosses and tumbling and asked for the position to be reinstated for the safety of the girls.
“My concern is for the safety of all the girls,” Brown said.
Members of board said they were unclear about the number of the cheerleaders on the squad in June. Some members said they recall being told the team had 12 members and that if they knew 22 girls were going to participate they wouldn’t have voted to cut the position.
“I heard 12 that night,” board member Robert Hiscox said.
Board member Robin Wright said she remembers being told 22 girls were trying out, which is why she voted against it in June.
The board unanimously approved reinstating the position. The money to pay the assistant coach’s stipend is expected to come from savings from hiring a younger, less expensive teacher to fill the vacancy of an unexpected resignation approved last week.