The Ferndale School District will rely on fundraising efforts, as well as a variety of new measures, in order to fund its athletics programs. (File photo)

It’s at a lower rate than the current levy; district pledges fundraising support to keep C-team athletics

FERNDALE — The Ferndale School District’s programs and operations levy is heading back out to voters in November.

The Ferndale School Board voted Tuesday, June 16, to put a two-year levy on the Nov. 3 general election ballot at a lower rate than the current levy on the books, which expires at the end of 2020. Voters will decide on $1.50 per thousand dollars of assessed property value for two years, lower than the current rate of $2.17 per thousand.

“We recognize these are difficult times for our community and our nation,” school board president Andrew McLaurin said in a press release. “However, after a levy failure in February we need to again ask our community to consider approving our local levy, which allows us to help pay for school staff, programs, technology and student services and opportunities.”

The levy in February won 43.8% support when it needed 60% to pass. The rate asked for was $2.50.

  Due to the failure, the district is cutting 102 positions for the 2020-21 school year. Even at the lower amount, the new levy’s passage would allow the district to restore some programs, reduce the need for future cuts and protect jobs for staff, the district press release noted.

  The levy would fund:

• School staff including nurses, teachers, security officers, counselors and paraeducators beyond what the state allocates.

• School services and programs including advanced learning, lower class sizes and the district’s eight-period high school schedule that allows for more electives.

• Technology for school and at-home learning, including computers for kids in grades 6-12.

• Student services and opportunities, including athletics, music, drama and clubs.

On June 22, the district issued a media release that provided a window into life without levy funding next year. Athletics were always on the table as a potential cut, as detailed by Ferndale schools Superintendent Linda Quinn after last February’s levy’s failure.

The district announced that it had made the decision to cut C-team sports due to a lack of levy funding. However, the district stated that coaching staff and community members associated with these teams would raise the funds needed to keep them in the fall.

The state doesn’t provide any funding for athletics and programs like band and music. Most of the funding for these activities comes from the local levy, which is usually for a term of four years.

“I am so proud that our community and coaches are willing and able to help find the funds for our students, many of them freshmen, to play sports in the fall,” Quinn said. “We understand how important it is for the health and safety of our student athletes and the longevity of these programs that students have the opportunity to participate on C Teams.”

Quinn said if the new levy passes on Nov. 3, the district will be able to provide a budget for all levels of athletics past the fall season. The district is determining how fundraising will happen.

The district has been able to keep varsity and JV sports because it is:

• Using savings realized from not running a full schedule of spring sports in 2020.

• Instituting a pay-to-play fee for those students whose families can afford it.

• Finding scholarships for those students whose families cannot afford pay-to-play fees.

• Reducing transportation costs wherever possible.

• Reducing staff costs wherever possible, including replacing some support positions that are currently paid with volunteers.

• Changing the middle school athletics programs from interscholastic to intramural.

• Soliciting donations.