The $4.5 million in budget cuts approved by the Groveport-Madison Board of Education May 23 dug deeply into district programs, personnel and services.

The $4.5 million in budget cuts approved by the Groveport-Madison Board of Education May 23 dug deeply into district programs, personnel and services.

Current and former teachers, staff members, students, parents and community members packed Groveport Madison Junior High School to voice their concerns and urged the board to save the jobs of teachers and eliminate all athletics, if needed, instead of turning some sports into self-funded activities.

Superintendent Bruce Hoover and each board member stressed the need for the cuts to balance the district's budget as a result of the May 7 defeat of the school district's 7.08-mill, five-year emergency levy.

Adding provisional ballots to the election night totals did not produce enough votes to change the outcome. According to the Franklin County Board of Elections, the vote now stands at 1,627 in favor (49.8 percent) to 1,639 against (50.2 percent). Because the difference is so slight, an automatic recount could happen as soon as next week.

"Everybody wants to preach education. Everybody wants to govern exactly how we're going to do education, but yet, the more you govern, the more you take away," board member Bryan Shoemaker said.

Board member Nathan Slonaker said the decision to make the cuts troubles him because he attended Groveport, had some of the teachers affected by the cuts and lettered in two of the sports that are now self-funded.

"There is no cut that we can make where students aren't affected, where jobs aren't affected, where lives aren't affected," he said.

Board member Charlotte Barker said the board is legally required to balance the budget.

"I do not want to cut any program or any staff member, but the people in the community have told us twice they want bare bones," Barker said. "If you voted in the election, whether it was 'yes' or 'no,' and you were educated about the vote, I respect your vote and I respect you, but if you were one of approximately 75 to 80 percent of our parents and grandparents who did not bother to vote, than shame on you and don't bother to complain to me."

A building reconfiguration is expected to save the district nearly $1.8 million. The current junior high school will be "repurposed" to create an additional middle school so students in grades 6-8 will attend Middle School North, South or Central.

Hoover said parents will be notified in the next two weeks which school their children will attend.

Eliminating all busing at the high school and transporting high school students to charter, community and private schools and career centers for the 2013-2014 school year will save an estimated $702,000.

Nearly $1.6 million will be saved by cutting the jobs of 10 media specialists and 13 physical education teachers, although Hoover said three physical education teachers will be hired back to assist with fitness programming and health assessments.

Athletics and extracurricular activities were also sliced. Sports programs that will be funded for the next school year include football, volleyball, boys and girls basketball, baseball, softball, band, choir and cheerleading. However, cheerleaders and band members will not be allowed to participate in away games.

Programs that must now fund themselves include tennis, golf, bowling, soccer, wrestling, theater, track and field, cross country, Cruiserettes and all academic clubs.

The reorganization of extracurricular programs is expected to save nearly $430,000.

Some parents at the meeting argued that instead of cutting teaching jobs and some sports, all athletic programs should be eliminated to allow athletes the opportunity to be eligible to compete on teams at other schools.

"If you are going to cut one sport, you need to cut them all," parent Connie Scott said. "To continue to be 'excellent' in education, we need our teachers. We need our media specialists.

"It seems asinine to keep football when you can't keep a teacher or a specialist that can help a student read," Scott said.