Stonington - If members of the Stonington High School freshman basketball and football teams want to play next year, they're going to have to the raise the money to fund their teams.
That's because the District Athletic Committee, which was given the job of cutting $15,400 from the athletic department budget, has decided to cut funding for the football team and the boys' and girls' basketball teams.
Board of Education Chairwoman Gail MacDonald and school board member Alisa Morrison, who is a member of the athletic committee, stressed the school system is not eliminating the teams, just not funding them.
The players will have to raise the money to cover their costs, just as the crew and lacrosse teams have done for many years.
The $15,400 cut was part of the $300,000 in cuts the school board made to the budget after residents defeated it at the first referendum.
MacDonald said the board left it up to the high school to decide how to remove the money from the athletic budget. She said the school board does not have to approve the cut.
Morrison, who strongly opposed any cut in the athletic budget and presented studies to board members that showed the benefits of sports for students, said the board considered several options presented by high school Athletic Director Bryan Morrone.
"This was a hard decision," she said.
One was to eliminate the golf and swimming programs, while another was to use revenue from scoreboard advertising to offset the cuts.
That option was rejected because the scoreboard advertising money is already considered as revenue in the school budget. She said eliminating assistant coaches would have meant limiting the number of athletes on certain teams.
"We looked at all the options to see how we could least affect the kids," Morrison said. "We wanted to do the least amount of damage without cutting entire programs."
High school Principal Stephen Murphy and Morrone could not be reached to comment Thursday.