LEETONIA- The high school will have a varsity soccer program for at least three years at no cost to the district.
The school board Wednesday night unanimously granted permission to Athletic Director Marcia Duko to develop a game schedule and hire a head coach for the 2011-2012 school year.
The move was stipulated on the fact that the district not have any expenditures related to the program through the first three years.
To cover the costs of the program, the Leetonia Area Sports Association (LASA) has donated $1,500 for each year and school board members Kurt Jennings and Michael Rulli have committed to splitting the remaining costs with their school board salaries.
At the end of the three years, the administration will re-evaluate the fiscal state of the program based on guidelines to be developed at subsequent meetings to determine its continuance.
"[Soccer is an] up and coming sport for kids and I think that if we give it a try...at least in two or three years we can say we gave it a try," Rulli said. "The hearts and minds of those in Leetonia need to open up a little. We want to give these kids who go [through the LASA soccer program] to the eighth grade an opportunity to play in high school."
The program will start with a co-ed team for grades nine to 12 for the 2011-2012 school year. There will be approximately four to eight games the first year, six to 10 the second and 12 to 16 with participation in the state tournament the third.
Costs, which include transportation, equipment, coaching and referees, are projected to be $2,600 the first year, $2,900 the second and $3,477 the third.
According to Jennings, the implementation of soccer is about increasing revenue.
"The issue is what are we doing to raise money outside of a tax levy," he said. "To me it's simple math. Kids are leaving this district so they can play soccer. We lose that state funding.
"The number of students we retain and attract will pay for the program and more," he noted
Board President John Rydarowicz emphasized that the program is being approved as self-funded at no cost to the district.
Kevin Howell can be reached at email@example.com