Middle school athletes in Silver Valley Unified District will be able to compete with students in other school districts once again.

The SVUSD Board of Trustees overturned a previous decision to downsize all middle school sports to an intramural level, meaning that students from Fort Irwin and the valley would only play against each other.

According to Fort Irwin Middle School secretary Jan Norton, members of the Fort Irwin community breathed a sigh of relief that the competitive program had been reinstated on Tuesday.

Parents in SVUSD, specifically at Fort Irwin, had in the past expressed a strong commitment to having a competitive sports program.

The board voted decided to cut down middle school sports in March. During the round of budget cuts, district officials reported that cutting athletics would save $15,000. At the time, Fort Irwin Middle School principal Charles Thatch said the majority of the cost for athetics was due to transportation particularly from Fort Irwin where teams on average travel 85 miles one way to play other districts.

According to Superintendent Marc Jackson, the district is able to resume the program due to the recently passed state budget, which while making cuts to public education provided school districts more flexibility with money that was previously restricted.

The board voted to allocate $10,000 a year for middle school athletics until 2011, Jackson said, which is when the state tightens its funds restrictions again.

The board unanimously approved reinststating the program, said Yermo School principal Derek Pinto.
Though the sports season started Aug. 3, Jackson said the programs, which in the fall includes volleyball and cross country, will still be able to participate fully.

"I think it still gives them time," he said.

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