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Budget cuts take a toll on school sports

Physical education teachers paid $1,500 per sport in GSSSA’s afterschool program
  • The five core sports now fully recognized by the Ministry of Sports are volleyball, basketball, track and field, soccer and softball. If baseball is added to the list, it is scheduled to run the same time as softball. FILE

Guardian Sports Reporter

Published: Oct 22, 2013

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While trying to answer questions that have surfaced about physical education teachers in the government high and junior schools not wanting to coach in some of the afterschool programs, President of the Government Secondary Schools Sports Association (GSSSA) Kevin ‘K.J.’ Johnson yesterday encouraged members to use all avenues possible to prepare their teams for competition.

Noting that cross country was used by many of the physical education teachers in the GSSSA to condition and prepare student-athletes for some of the other sporting disciplines, Johnson said the decision to remove cross country was based on the budget cuts made by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology.  He thanked Minister of Education, Science and Technology Jerome Fitzgerald for understanding and having a listening ear in regards to the teachers’ plight, and working hand-in-hand with the association.

“The Ministry of Education has cut back on the budget and they decided to only pay for the five core sports, which are basketball, volleyball, track and field, soccer and softball.  Shortly we will be playing baseball in the schools, we are going to rectify that and get that sorted out,” said Johnson.  “They are cutting back on a lot of stuff and cross country was just one of the sports that they are cutting back on.  The ministry, and not the GSSSA, made that decision, so we will have to go with that.  I think a lot of the member schools that really put on the cross country events are very disappointed about not having them.  With that being said, I remind them that it is out of our hands and that the decisions come down from Ministry of Education.

“We will encourage the coaches to go and definitely prepare their teams to participate in cross country, but it will probably be difficult.  But me as president, I will definitely encourage all physical education teachers and member schools to go out and try and participate in all of the independent cross country events.  Hopefully they will go and participate, using it as a means to get their teams in tip-top shape.  Cross country is used by many as conditioning.”

The five core sports now fully recognized by the ministry runs from September to June on the GSSSA’s calendar.  The first sport is volleyball, followed by basketball, track and field, soccer and softball.  If baseball is added to the list, it is scheduled to run the same time as softball.

Johnson confirmed that two coaches are assigned for all sports besides track and field, which has about four coaches.  He was not able to give an accurate count on how many coaches are currently involved in the GSSSA’s afterschool program, but noted that an additional two will be assigned to baseball if it is implemented.

Johnson said: “I think that in every ministry there were budget cuts and this was just one of the Ministry of Education’s ways of cutting back, making sure that they meet the requirements.  They had to make sure that everyone gets paid for the five core sports that are currently going on in high schools.  Each coach is paid $1,500 per sport.”

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