Taft to give at least $1,000 for coaching stipends to 16 feeder elementary schools
by BRIAN NADIG
Taft High School is allocating $18,000 of its approximately $2 million in discretionary funds to help pay for coaching stipends at its feeder schools, as the school system is planning to eliminate all of its funding for elementary schools in the city.
“Every school gets at least $1,000, but some get extra because they send us a lot of kids,” Taft principal Mark Grishaber said of Taft’s stipend plan. “We’re a neighborhood school. Let’s be a good neighbor.”
The Taft High School Local School Council approved the funding proposal at its July 21 meeting. A discretionary budget consists of the funds which a school is allocated based on the number of its students who qualify for the free- and reduced-cost lunch program, and schools are allowed to roll over unspent discretionary funds.
Grishaber said that the council’s decision to give assistance to the feeder schools “is going to be revolutionary in CPS” and will generate a lot of goodwill in the community for Taft but that “we’re really doing it because it is best for the children.”
The funds being given to the feeder schools will not cover all of their athletic needs, but it is in the best interest of Taft to help ensure that its future students will have a chance to play sports, Grishaber said. “I know the coaches on the Northwest Side, and most of them are going to take their money and buy McDonald’s or something for the kids,” he said.
Some LSC members expressed concern that if the sports programs at the feeder schools are dropped, it could lead to a significant reduction in the number of freshmen joining a team at Taft.
Under the plan, Beaubien, Smyser, Palmer and Gavey schools will each receive $1,500, while Hitch, Dirksen, Prussing, Onahan, Ebinger, Farnsworth, Sauganash, Edgebrook, Oriole Park, Norwood Park, Edison Park and Wildwood will each get $1,000. Council members voted 7-2 against a proposal that would have allocated $1,500 to each school.
In a related matter, the council also approved an allocation of $33,000 for a company which will provide an athletic trainer at Taft’s sporting events. “It’s so we don’t always have to call 911 when a kid gets hurt,” Grishaber said.
LSC parent member Joe McFeely, who coaches at the school, said that the job of wrapping a sprained ankle should not be left to a coach and that he welcomes having a trained professional deal with his players’ injuries.
The budget also includes an additional $15,000 for Taft coaches.
Grishaber said that as one of the largest high schools in the state, Taft should compete with the top teams in the state and that Taft often fields a team with two coaches against an opponent with as many as five coaches.
The discretionary budget also includes funding for computer equipment, clerks, substitute teachers and security.