Anne Arundel County high school athletics have dodged another bullet.
For the second year in a row, high school basketball and wrestling tournaments during the Christmas holidays have been saved.
And the county might be getting close to handling the vacant coordinator of physical education position. At least, an interim replacement could be in the offing.
In light of the county budget crisis, a committee chaired by Dennis Younger, executive director of instruction, met yesterday at board headquarters to see how money could be saved during the holiday break.
A proposal had been made to keep school buildings closed during the nearly two-week Christmas break to save money. The move would have eliminated holiday tournaments in boys and girls basketball and wrestling. A similar proposal was made last year.
However, Younger listened to and opted for alternatives usedas cost-saving measures last year, and he approved the tournaments.
"I know there was concern about paying custodian services and whatto to do about administrators to come back to school during that time to chaperon without pay," said Annapolis athletic director Fred Stauffer, who represented athletic directors at the meeting.
"I went into the meeting hoping we could convince the board to take the gate receipts to pay the custodians and administrators. One-third of the gate going back to the school to take care of expenses is fair.
"Asfor the heat, don't turn it on. We opened our building last year forour wrestling and basketball tournaments and didn't use any heat. Wegot through it in order to have the tournaments."
Stauffer says most county athletic directors and coaches realize some sacrifices have to be made to protect the holiday events.
"The county wanted to close the buildings altogether for the two-week holidays, but we worked things out," Younger said.
"We had the right players on the committee to come to a wise decision. The only thing we are trying to determine right now is what it actually costs to open a building for one day."
A $100 figure per day for administrators returning to school for tournaments was discussed.
"That's not etched in stone, butnobody had any opposition to that figure," Stauffer said. "We all agree they should get something."
In addition to Younger and Stauffer, assistant superintendents Ronald L. Beckett and Cheryl H. Wilhoyte; Shirley Hicks, director of high schools; and Rick Wiles, a physicaleducation department resource teacher and member of the MillersvilleElementary School faculty attended the meeting.
Stauffer was relieved because his school plays host every year to one of the biggest wrestling tournaments in the state.
"It wouldn't have been good, public relations-wise, to tell the teams we have coming in here just a month before that we were canceling the tournament," Stauffer said. The event draws close to 20 teams from several counties.
"There is always a way to solve problems like this if people will allow you to find a solution," he said. "We're all in the same boat, and it's for the advantage of everyone, not just Annapolis."
A problem not solved is what to do with the coordinator of physical education post. Paul Rusko retired in June but stayed on through two personal services contracts to start the school year. He finally left Oct. 31.
No onehas held the position since, although Younger was appointed by the board to keep an eye on things until something was done.
"Some of the feeling has been that if we don't appoint all the coordinators, then don't appoint just one (in phys-ed and athletics)," said Younger, referring to the budget cuts and the chance for the county to save money by not filling the $67,350 position.
"But I do need a little extra help in here anyway, so we've got to do something."
Younger hinted that the extra help might come from the physical education resources department, which consists of three teachers who teach part-time in addition to getting information out to elementary and middle schools.
One of those resource department teachers who could figure prominently in keeping the phys-ed department going is Wiles.
Wiles, whose name was mentioned in county athletic circles as a successor to Rusko, did not apply for the coordinator position but rather the assistant coordinator and teacher specialist position. He was named county Teacher of the Year in 1987.
A graduate of Andover High, AnneArundel Community College and Towson State University, the 40-year-old Wiles coached the Brooklyn Park High boys soccer team in the early'80s. He has been in the county school system for nearly 20 years, the last 11 at Millersville Elementary.
Wiles said yesterday that he has not been offered a position by county administrators but that he is "interested in seeing something get straightened out for the sake of physical education."
A source close to the situation said that "it looks like Rick will pretty much be running the program for thetime being."
Younger indicated that if the position is not officially filled he might lean on Wiles in the months to come because of his phys-ed expertise.
"It would seem that Rick could be a lot of help, but I really can't read into this thing at the moment," he said."Before he became ill, Dr. (Larry) Lorton wanted to do something about getting someone in the job, but he was not here when a recommendation was made after the candidates were interviewed."
Lorton, the school superintendent, recently returned to work.