Mokena school district goes without extracurriculars

August 22, 2011 4:15:44 PM PDT
It was the first day of school for kids in Mokena but budget cuts have forced the school to make some major changes this year.

This school year, District 159 will be without any extracurricular activities.

"The debate club, chess club, bowling team, anything that you would consider to be extra or outside the curriculum, has been cut," said Mike Rolinitis, Mokena Junior High.

Sports were also cut, which is a big blow to Mokena Junior High, the Home of the Meteors, where the boys and girls basketball teams have made it state tournaments several times.

Eliminating extracurricular activities, cutting bus routes, personnel and increasing class sizes are all ways the school district is dealing with a budget deficit.

"A lot of this boils down to some of the things that the state is doing. There's nothing fiscally that we have, quote/unquote, done wrong, but the state is constantly cutting down," said District 159 Interim Superintendent Steve Stein.

Additionally, Mokena voters rejected a tax referendum for a third time.

"It's unfortunate. My daughter is in the music program and it's upsetting that it's been cut," said parent Joe Schuringa.

The sports is disappointing because they won't be exposed to the sports that they could have been exposed to until high school now. And with the competitiveness of sports nowadays, if you wait until then to get your child into the sport, it's passed them by," said parent Stephanie McCloughan.

Kyle Gustafson was looking forward to playing on the seventh grade basketball team.

"I'm just going to play for the park district," Gustafson said.

To bring back extracurricular activities to District 159, it will cost over $225,000. Last year, the community was able to raise private funds, but the superintendent says that won't happen this year, so parents are looking at other options such as paying to play, starting a booster organization or wishing for a very generous donor.

"If some billionaire wants to write a big check, we'll take it. But I'm not seeing that happen," Rolinitis said.

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