Seeking to keep fields accessible and available to some 4,000 kids in and around Ahwatukee, various youth sports leagues met with the Kyrene School District on Monday after add-on costs to the Ahwatukee Foothills Pony Baseball Association caused heated community concern.
Add-on costs to the baseball league that include field maintenance, janitorial services, and opening and closing of the fields would increase overall annual costs to the league resulting in about $40,000.
Until a resolution is made between the leagues and the district, Kyrene is postponing the add-on fees to the Pony league.
“It sounds like their listening at this point, it’s moving forward faster than I even dreamed of,” said Pony Baseball President Ron Ensley.
Last week, Ensley sent out a letter to more than 600 parents about what the league described as a “rate increases” for use of Kyrene fields in Ahwatukee schools like Akimel A-al Middle School. Though the district did not raise its rates for any of the participating leagues, parents and residents felt the decision for add-on costs were problematic.
The league’s cost to rent at Akimel would go from about $45 a day on Saturdays to $252 a day. Weekday costs would go from $125 to about $280 per day. Cleaning costs would increase from $250 a week to $540 a week.
If the new add-on costs do in fact remain, the Pony league would be unable to afford using Kyrene fields next spring, and as Ensley describes, would have to close.
“That’s not a negotiation, it’s a middle finger to 4,000 kids and families and a blatant attempt to shut these leagues down,” said Ahwatukee resident Brian Barney, after receiving the parent letter.
District governing board members, Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio and league representatives from Ahwatukee Little League, American Youth Soccer Organization and others attended the meeting on Monday.
Kyrene Superintendent Dr. David Schauer said the school district is willing to work with the leagues to make costs more affordable.
Though some progress is eminent, Ahwatukee Little League President Mike Kearney, holding ground for the leagues, said he “will not play the cat and mouse game” with the families his league serves.
“We will bring closure to our community one way or another.”
Financial officers from both the school district and the youth leagues will meet again next Monday, May 20, to review costs.
For more information about the Pony league, visit eteamz.com/ahwatukeeponybaseballassociation.
Stay tuned to the Ahwatukee Foothills News and ahwatukee.com for more information.
• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @dmartinezAFN.