State budget cuts and county spending restrictions could mean the end of Friday night football and holiday basketball tournaments in Duplin County. Parents and coaches worry cutting the sports program could cause some students to leave school altogether. School administrators say there's no way they'll cut athletic programs in Duplin County, but new county restrictions could mean the school board will have to field the money on their own. “It would be the worst mistake in the world. There are a lot of kids that wouldn't even go to school if it wasn't for the sports,” said Duplin parent Traci Twitty. Duplin County is home to several high school state athletic champions, but money issues could keep those teams from taking the field next year. Duplin County Commissioners will not cut the schools’ budget of almost $8 million, but they could change how that money is spent. “With those restrictions we can pay assistant principals, we can't pay teachers, we can't pay teachers assistants,” said Assistant Superintendent Bo Mullins. They also are figuring how to pay for sports. That means the Duplin Board of Education would need to find about a half million dollars to fund extra-curricular programs like JROTC and athletics. “It is a big deal, it gives you that toughness and that mental attitude you need along with the education,” said Wallace-Rose Hill Head Football Coach Joey Price. While the fields are empty right now, if the school board is not able to find more funding for this year's budget they could remain that way all season. Parents and coaches are worried if that happens it could leave the students looking for other schools. But Assistant Superintendent Bo Mullins said the board of education won't let the programs disappear. “We have got to have that program and we're going to do everything possible to make sure we have athletics in Duplin County Schools.”
Disclaimer: Comments posted on this, or any story are opinions of those people posting them, and not the views or opinions of WWAY NewsChannel 3, its management or employees. You can view our comment policy here.