Calhoun athletes feel the hurt

The harsh reality of the matter is money usually makes the world go round.

When it comes to prep athletics, money is needed for a plethora of reasons from paying coaches and officials to making sure things like the electric bill is paid.

Earlier this year in Calhoun County, the citizens made their voice heard and opted to vote down a special school levy, which needed a simple majority to pass. However, the votes against rested at 845 as opposed to 727 for the levy, which would’ve financially supported the school system operations and services.

Many people saw something like this coming and now it’s here. At least for the residents of Calhoun County that is.

This week, a proposal was put out for the “use of school facilities” which will remain open for comment until the end of next week.

What does this mean?

It means in all likelihood anyone wanting to use athletic facilities of any kind in Calhoun County are going to fork out money for them and it’s not necessarily going to be cheap.

Tim Woodward, the new superintendent of Calhoun County, didn’t want this to happen, but at the same time it’s his job to make sure the school system has the money it needs to operate.

As it currently stands, the fee structure being discussed would begin in 2015, unless the school levy issue is placed back on the ballot this fall and is approved.

“Right now, time is of the essence. It’s sad but true,” Woodward said noting if the levy had passed things wouldn’t be where they are now.

Another problem with declining enrollment hurting the bottom line of rural schools like Calhoun County comes from the fact the school system already has made a plethora of cuts across the board.

When I talked to Kelli Whytsell, the principal at Calhoun County, on the phone Thursday, she told me normally at this time she’d be at school working instead of being at home. However, even the days administrators work have been scaled back.

“Our new school is 15 years old,” said Whytsell, who praised the athletic boosters. “As with a house, you have things you have to start repairing. Is this where we really want to go? Absolutely not.”

Of course, this is not the route any school system wants to take.

It’s especially difficult for a county such as Calhoun, which according to government data ranks 77th nationally and second in the Mountain State in terms of counties with the lowest per capita income.

“I think right now the board kind of wants to see where the public is in terms of how they feel about this,” added Woodward. “It’s not that we are trying to make money off this. We have to cover the basic needs.

“That’s where we are at this point. The levy would take us back in the right direction, but at this point we have to operate as if the levy doesn’t pass. None of this has been a pleasant thing to do.”

Contact Jay Bennett at jbennett@newsandsentinel.com