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Arlington Gymnastics, Track Safe … for Now

Current budget keeps both sports, but their fate depends on Fairfax County.

Although Arlington County Public Schools are facing an $8.6 million gap in its 2010 budget, none of the planned cutbacks are expected to effect athletic programs and extra curricular activities within the school system.

But with a proposal that would eliminate girls’ gymnastics and indoor track still on the table in Fairfax County, Arlington officials admit that the future of those sports is still to be decided depending on what happens over the coming months.

“If they took those out, how we would have to regroup and re-make our schedules is still up in the air,” said Debbie DeFranco, APS’s supervisor of physical education and athletics. “It could be a cause and effect. That’s our primary competition.”

“Our intent has never been to cut extracurricular activities,” added APS Assistant Superintendent Linda Erdos. “Those would be unintended consequences.”

Erdos said a number of factors will play into the future of those two sports, most notably state and federal stimulus money that have altered the county’s revenue projections in recent weeks.

School Superintendent Robert Smith’s most recent budget proposal last Monday night calls for approximately $10.1 million in budget cutbacks such as a reduction of central and schools non-staff accounts by 5 percent, delaying the purchase of social studies textbooks, purchasing half as many new school buses as planned, and decreasing a tax sheltered annuity for APS employees by 1.9 percent.

The plan actually emphasizes maintaining successful APS programs, specifically referencing extra curricular activities. It has local administrators and student-athletes somewhat relieved, even though their status still remains uncertain.

“We’re glad Dr. Smith agrees with the information out there that shows the benefit of having students involved in extra curricular activities,” said Yorktown director of student activities Michael Krulfeld. “But at the same, we’ve tried as best we can to be financially conservative now knowing full well that cuts are going to be made somewhere with what is going on economically speaking.”