Michael D. Clark reports (more information from story reported earlier)
Officials from the financially struggling Lakota schools were no-shows Tuesday at an event where an anti-tax group pledged to give needy students $10,000 to help them pay for sports fees.
Leaders of NoLakota announced a donation fund they plan to distribute to the families of student athletes unable to pay participation fees and then criticized Lakota officials for not attending their press conference.
The school system is facing a nearly $11 million projected budget shortfall and considering sweeping cuts in student services and personnel for next school year.
Lakota officials said they had no knowledge of the NoLakota news conference.
“The Lakota district always appreciates support for children in our community. A week ago, a district representative asked this group to submit a proposal for its idea. We’re still waiting for it,” said Elliot Grossman, spokesman for Lakota Schools. “We learned about the news conference 24 minutes before it was to start.”
Rich Hoffman, spokesman for NoLakota, which was instrumental in helping defeat three school tax hikes in the last two years, attributed the absence of district officials to “a lack of communication on their end.”
He said his group had communications with Lakota about the formation of “Yes To Lakota Kids” program, which unveiled a website Tuesday for Lakota parents interested in applying for money to pay sports fees. Information can be found at yes-to-lakota-kids.org .
NoLakota is the first anti-school-tax group in Southwest Ohio to raise money from imembers to offset fee costs in a public school district. Lakota high school athletes pay $550 per sport, up from $300 a year ago. Those in grades seven and eight pay $350 per sport, compared to $200 a year ago.