If the agenda goes as written tonight, the Mifflin County school board will vote to end three junior high sports programs - boys and girls soccer, and softball - and will terminate funding for one varsity program, indoor track and field.
Along with that, some other cuts will be made, and the district's athletic activity fee will more than double, from $30 to $75.
I'm pretty well on board with the school district's decision, and I'll explain why. But, at the risk of a few ruffled feathers, I have to call into question the decision to defund indoor track and field.
I'm not quite sure I understand why a school district that recently decided to add two new sports - which costs money - is now planning to take its support away from another to save money. Wouldn't it have made sense not to add any new sports?
I'm a little perplexed why the district is targeting a popular and established winter sport instead of one that is much newer, one that quite possibly costs more, and serves fewer students.
I'm confused that a program that has not had anywhere near the success of the track program - one that is duplicated in the community in two different seasons (a reason stated for the elimination of the junior high programs) - is being preserved ahead of indoor track.
I'm concerned when the sport under the budget axe is one that has delivered a measurable number of scholarship opportunities to local students, probably more than any two or three other sports combined.
OK, let's be fair - I like track and field. I grew up in a track town, one where a Lewistown native began a program that has been one of the most successful in the state. It's a beautiful and graceful sport that is open to boys and girls of different athletic abilities.
The reasons offered by the district seem specious. It's not a PIAA sport - so what? It's still sanctioned by the Pennsylvania Track and Field Coaches Association, and still falls under PIAA oversight guidelines.
The meets are too far away? Well, some are - but there are eight each winter within 60 miles of Lewistown, another inside the district's preferred 90-mile radius and three more that are but 10 miles further.
It's not a Title IX issue - it serves both genders equally. In fact, Title IX wasn't really an issue for Mifflin County before this year - each gender had 12 sports available (although girls had to play tennis against boys) - and thanks to the addition of girls tennis and competition cheer, there actually will be more girls sports in the district.
It costs less than some other sports - so the price tag seems not to be the issue.
Cutting - or even pulling support from - track simply doesn't make sense. It does tell me that the board needs some better advisers when it comes to sports.
As for the other issues: Fees are going to keep rising for scholastic sports - that's a reality that cannot be escaped. Our neighbors in Juniata County can tell us just how much scholastic sports can cost families whose kids want to play, because they're paying the whole tab.
The alternate is higher taxes, and that's been capped at the request of citizens. Certainly no one favors deeper cuts to education as a means of maintaining a sports program.
And that's driving the reduction in junior high sports, not just here but elsewhere. School districts added most of these programs within the past 20 years, and now find they cannot pay the bill. Yes, it costs more to play on a travel team - and there may not be local options in some of the sports.
Actually, there is another option, one that was pretty common when my generation was in its teen years - we got a ball and played. I sometimes think folks forget that an organized league, uniforms and other amenities are not required for kids to play sports and have fun.
Jeff Fishbein is sports editor of The Sentinel. Contact him at email@example.com.