Coach, parents ask for cheerleading gear

Uniforms last replaced about 9 years ago

PORTAGE — With uniforms deteriorating, Portage Area High School’s cheerleading coach and parents of team members petitioned school board members for replacements at a Wednesday evening meeting.

It was a request they should have made when the district budget was created earlier in the year, officials said.

“We are just simply looking to get these girls, who support this community, the school and our football players … some new uniforms,” said Sherry Sossong, whose daughter, Chloe, is on the cheerleading team.

The last time uniforms were replaced was about 2010, Sossong said.

“This will be the ninth season wearing the same uniforms,” she said, explaining the uniforms are worn to cheerleading competitions, as well as to cheer at basketball and football games and wrestling matches.

High school cheerleading coach Gayle Price said she had requested new uniforms for the past two seasons.

Those requests were denied, she said, because district finances did not allow the purchases.

“I trusted what I was told,” she said. “So here we are again.”

But Superintendent Eric Zelanko explained to those in attendance that the request came late this year.

“At this time of year, two weeks before school starts, it puts them and us in a bad spot,” he said.

Zelanko said uniforms for different district activities are purchased on a schedule, and that schedule has been adhered to in recent years.

According to that schedule, new cheerleading uniforms should have been purchased for the 2013-14 school year, board member Dennis Squillario said.

However, Squillario said it could have been longer since uniforms were actually purchased.

Price agreed, explaining that the last time uniforms were purchased, it was with money the team earned through fundraising, not from the district budget.

That money allowed the purchase of bargain uniforms, she said.

“They were cheap, and they didn’t last,” she said.

To purchase new uniforms for the upcoming school year, the cost likely would be $7,700, she said.

No decision was made at the Wednesday meeting, but Zelanko agreed to keep discussions open.

“Come see me next week,” he told Price.

Mirror Staff Writer Sean Sauro is at 946-7535.