Pickerington High School North athletics director Mark Aprile has been selected to lead the district's newly restructured athletics department for the next five years.

Pickerington High School North athletics director Mark Aprile has been selected to lead the district's newly restructured athletics department for the next five years.

The Pickerington Board of Education on Monday unanimously approved hiring Aprile, PHS North's athletics director the past eight years, as the Pickerington Local School District's director of student activities, effective Aug. 1.

As director of student activities, he will lead athletics programming at the district's two high schools as well as its two junior highs.

He will be paid a base salary of $98,950 annually, plus benefits. According to information provided by the district, the only change in Aprile's benefits package is that he will be eligible to begin accruing vacation time on Aug. 1 since he now will be a year-round employee. He will receive up to 25 vacation days a year. As part of his medical insurance, he will pay 20 percent of his medical costs.

Assistant Superintendent Jim Sotlar said Aprile, in addition to leading the athletics department and programming, will be charged with "overseeing all extracurricular activities, especially in the pay-to-participate program."

Aprile said he's looking forward to his new duties.

"Any time you deal with education and athletics, there are challenges, and this certainly will be a challenge," he said.

The five-year contract was recommended by the PLSD administration, according to Lee Cole, the district's director of communications.

"Athletics is a huge portion of the district and we wanted someone to be there for the long-term as the district goes through this restructuring," she said. "Mark Aprile also has a business degree, so he really can look at this with a broad view."

The director of student activities position was created after the board approved approximately $13 million in cuts in January to balance the district's budget for the 2011-12 school year.

As part of those cuts, some 120 teaching and staff jobs were eliminated.

In an effort to reduce athletics department costs by up to $1 million, the district raised pay-to-participate fees for sports to $500 per student, per sport at the high school level, and $325 per student, per sport at the junior highs.

The board also created the director of student activities position and reduced the number of athletics department administrators who will serve the district in 2011-12 from six to five.

"This is a very important change," PLSD Superintendent Karen Mantia said. "This is a restructuring of the delivery of athletics.

"We are reducing one athletic director and consolidating many of the duties," she said. "The cost is the reduction of one personnel. That's significant."

Under the district's current structure, PHS North and PHS Central each have an athletics director and an assistant athletics director; Lakeview and Ridgeview junior highs each have a single athletics coordinator.

When the new structure is implemented Aug. 1, Aprile will be assisted by two administrators at the high school level and a single junior high athletics coordinator.

The move, according to Sotlar, will save the district $100,000 to $140,000, depending on who fills the positions under Aprile.

As part of the previously approved spending cuts, the contracts for April as North AD, Central AD Pete Laihr, Central assistant AD Jim Campbell, North assistant AD Missy Henrich, Lakeview athletics coordinator Debbie Kose and Ridgeview athletics coordinator Scott Barrett each were suspended, effective Aug. 1.

Now that Aprile is in place, Sotlar said, the district will fill the remaining four athletics department positions. Four of the five remaining employees whose contracts were suspended could be reinstated, but likely at lower salaries.

Sotlar said he hopes to have the positions finalized by the board's June 13 meeting.

"I wasn't moving forward before we got (the director of student activities) in place because he'll be part of the interview process," Sotlar said. "This is a work in progress and this is going to be the trial year.

"I don't think any district has something like this. Most high schools have their own ADs."

As North's AD, Aprile earned $94,454 this year.

Aprile has worked in the district since 1993. He was named Pickerington High School AD in 1997.

Chief among his priorities, he said, would be revising the district's athletics transportation system and finding ways to curb department costs.

"Obviously, we need to be a little more efficient," he said. "We'll take a look at all the aspects of the athletic department to see if we can make some changes to be more efficient."