Occasionally, some high schools will not field junior varsity teams due to a lack of interest. Nokomis Regional High School, a Class B school, may soon be facing something different.

In sports like basketball, baseball, and softball, Nokomis has enough interest to fill out varsity, JV, and even freshman rosters. What Nokomis might not have is a school district that can afford to field all of those teams.

Voters in six towns will be asked Tuesday to approve a 10-year, $3.6 million loan to Regional School Unit 19. If it doesn’t pass, several sports programs, including all sub-varsity winter and spring teams, will be cut, and the cuts will begin Wednesday.

“The board has already adopted the cut list,” RSU 19 superintendent Greg Potter said. “There will be no special meeting.”

RSU 19 includes the towns of Corinna, Dixmont, Etna, Hartland, Newport, Palmyra, Plymouth, and St. Albans. Potter, who took over as superintendent in July, blames the financial situation on a variety of mistakes and mismangements, including the district neglecting to bill towns for more than $300,000. The district is also on the hook for a $1.5 million Revenue Anticipated Note, which Potter said was used to pay off previous debts.

“The district’s cash position was basically destroyed by some very poor planning strategies that were employed, and some mistakes,” Potter said. “The planning behind it was egregious, really.

“It’s pretty serious, and it’s so serious right now that we cannot pay that million and a half (for the line of credit note). That’s supposed to be paid back by the end of the fiscal year. That’s not going to happen, unless we get the loan.”

According to information distributed by RSU 19, the district’s per pupil cost was $7,610.03 in 2011 — 17.4 percent below the state average of $9,629.62. RSU 19 claims it has already cut $830,000 by, among other things, leaving some open positions unfilled.

“If the voters support and give us permission for that loan to come out, it will completely stabilize the scenario,” Potter said.

The cut list approved by the board of directors includes JV and freshman teams for the winter and spring, middle school “B” teams, all field trips, and two custodial positions. It also eliminates school-provided transportation for remaining teams to road games.

“They will find their own way, with their parents and the like,” Potter said.

According to RSU 19, the towns will see different rates in their property taxes if the vote passes, ranging from $28.80 on a $100,000 home in Dixmont to $79.80 on a $100,000 home in St. Albans. Under the plan, Etna and Dixmont will bear less of the replacement costs because other towns were “inappropriately credited,” according to information distributed by RSU 19.

The Nokomis softball team played in the Eastern B title game this spring and is expected be a contender again next season. Coach JD McLellan said it would be almost impossible to compete without a JV team.

“After about two years, I would be going downhill fast,” McLellan said. “There’s no other way to put it.”

Potter is clear that the district would not allow parents or other adults to create JV teams on a volunteer basis, because of liability issues.

Athletic director Earl Anderson coached the Nokomis girls basketball team to a state title in 2001. Anderson agreed that not having JV programs is a huge disadvantage.

“I think it’s crippling in the short run,” he said, “and devastating in the long run.”

Anderson said the school has already made cuts, and he has been unable to purchase things unless the money was provided by boosters.

“It’s very depressing,” Anderson said. “It’s very overwhelming. I have felt personally, that I have to fight being dragged down.”

Boys basketball coach Carl Parker said with the cuts, the number of players in his program would go from about 40, to 15 or 20 — after he told a lot of those players that he would a find a place for them in the program if they kept working hard over the offseason.

“What really bothers me now, is I work in the school. Kids are coming up to me asking what’s going to happen,” Parker said. “They know they’re probably not varsity players. They’re debating whether they’ll even come out.”

As for how the vote will go, Potter said he could not say for sure which way the communities would vote on Tuesday.

“It’s really hard to tell,” he said. “I think it’s going to be very tight, very close.”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

[email protected]

 

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