School district plans to cut water sports

March 2, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
There are more tough choices for Bay Area schools because of the economy. The East Side Union High School District in San Jose, needs to cut $19 million from its budget.

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If the East Side Union High School District closes all of its swimming pools, Evergreen High School varsity swimmer, Michael Ngo, loses his stage to perform for college scouts and a possible scholarship.

"My best event is the 50 freestyle and I can swim it in 21.39 seconds, which is about two-tenths off the junior national cut," said Michael Ngo, an Evergreen a High School Swimmer.

The district's nearly 720 swimmers and water polo players want to know why their program is being targeted.

"It's mostly because there are fewer athletes in the aquatics and at this point the cost of keeping the 23 pools open is expensive," said Bob Nunes, the Superintendant of Schools.

Nunes says it costs more than $2 million to maintain and heat the pools, nearly half of the entire athletic budget.

Other proposed cuts include ending transportation for all athletic teams, reducing the number of coaches, and adding a $100 out-of-pocket student fee for each sport.

At Monday night's school board meeting, students and parents stayed focused on the aquatics program.

"How are we supposed to get these swimming scholarships or water polo scholarships, if we don't have all these years if we don't look as good as someone else? They're going to take someone else and not us," said Heidi Sundsbarm, an Evergreen High School swimmer.

But 70 teachers and 147 support staff members are also up for termination.

"Is it more important to the board at your age, that you learn how to kick a ball or that you learn how to balance a budget? That's what we need right now for students to learn," said Julio Pardo, a Para Educator.

The students and parents offered to raise money, but they'll have to convince the board they can raise more than $2 million before it makes a decision on March 15th.

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