BRIDGEPORT — What is good for Harding is apparently good for freshman athletes throughout the school district.
The city school board — although still broke — added to that deficit on Monday by deciding 8-to-1 to fund about $59,500 to support not only freshmen football at Bassick and Central too, but freshman soccer, girls basketball, volleyball and softball at the three comprehensive high schools.
Board member Joseph Sokolovic voted no, calling it a bad idea two weeks ago and a bad idea now.
“We still have a gaping hole (in next year’s budget),” Sokolovic said, noting that his son’s school, Park City Magnet, lacks paper or fans.
Board member Ben Walker suggested the move, after the board voted earlier this month to spend $3,500 on freshman football at Harding. Board member Chris Taylor suggested the funding after he said he was approached by Harding football coaches.
At the time, Athletic Director Chris Johnson agreed football gives students a positive outlet but questioned the equity of giving to one and not the other.
Walker said it was only fair to fund to a certain level all freshman teams where a varsity team exists. He counted as many as 20 teams in various sports. At $3,500 that amounts to $70,000.
The board subtracted what it already approved plus another $8,000 pledged by the city toward the effort. Teams that need more will need to fill the balance with car washes, bake sales and GoFundMe drives, Walker said.
No mention was made of the $5,000 the Ned Lamont Gubernatorial Campaign reportedly made a week ago to the Harding football team toward safety equipment.
Schools Superintendent Aresta Johnson, said Bassick and Central freshmen football would each get $3,500 with the the $1000 left over going to the Bassick girls basketball team.