Portsmouth Middle School sports get a boost

Girls' softball is one of the sports programs at Portsmouth Middle School that's made possible through fund-raising by the school's athletic boosters club. Girls' softball is one of the sports programs at Portsmouth Middle School that's made possible through fund-raising by the school's athletic boosters club.

Girls' softball is one of the sports programs at Portsmouth Middle School that's made possible through fund-raising by the school's athletic boosters club.

Girls’ softball is one of the sports programs at Portsmouth Middle School that’s made possible through fund-raising by the school’s athletic boosters club.

PORTSMOUTH — There will be boys’ and girls’ soccer this fall at Portsmouth Middle School after all.

Kirk Volk, president of the Portsmouth Middle School Athletic Boosters Club (PMSABC), told the School Committee Monday night that his group ended the fiscal year with a $5,000 deficit, putting some sports programs at the school in jeopardy. PMSABC was formed in 2010 to raise funds for soccer, baseball, softball and other athletic needs at the middle school that were not funded by the school budget.

“We’ve been able to fund four teams at the middle school through donations only,” said Mr. Volk.

The teams supported by the boosters have had much success, taking home four state championships so far: girls’ soccer in 2011 and 2012, boys’ basketball this year, and boys’ baseball in 2011.

PMSABC has struggled with fund-raising, however. The group raised$43,000 in 2011, only to see that figure drop to $30,000 in 2012 down to $14,000 this year. Mr. Volk blamed the decline on the poor economy as well as competition from other fund-raising groups. Some events, such as a “polar plunge” held in January, didn’t earn as much this year as they did previously.

“At this point in time, we’ve been operating at a deficit for the past two years. Without some help we will not be able to guarantee we have middle school sports as we go into 2013-14,” Mr. Volk said, adding that it will cost about $10,000 to fund the fall sports alone. “We’ve got less than $5,000 in the bank.”

School Committee Chairman David Croston said he wanted to help the group “overcome this cycle” this one time. “I think this committee is interested in working with your in partnership to create a plan that can actually work,” Mr. Croston said.

Committee member Emily Copeland suggested that while PMSABC has done a “wonderful job,” the town should be concentrating on extracurricular activities as a whole, especially since Portsmouth has such strong arts and music programs. She suggested that perhaps PMSABC shouldn’t try to offer as many sports teams as it does.

“It may not be all things to everybody,” said Ms. Copeland.

Middle school Principal Joseph Amaral spoke in favor of assisting PMSABC, saying the school’s lower fields — which are rented out by local clubs — were unusable before the group made improvements to them. “They pulled a lot of fund-raising money to put the fields to playing level. Now because it is good quality, many local organizations are using it,” Mr. Amaral said.

The committee voted 5-1 to allocate to PMSABC $10,000 from its gate receipts fund account, where admission fees from football games and other athletic events are deposited.

Committee member Andrew Kelly voted against the motion. While saying he supports PMSABC’s efforts, Mr. Kelly said the panel should first address the list of capital improvements that were presented to the committee before its current members were sworn in.

“We haven’t touched 70 percent of the items on that list,” he said.

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