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Schools propose rec for adults as well as kids

Staff writer

An inclusive recreation program with activities for children and adults is what interim Marion school superintendent Lee Leiker would like to develop.

He hasn’t decided exactly what programs he would like to add, but he wants to expand recreation beyond youth sports — perhaps including dance, martial arts, cooking classes, and craft activities for both children and adults.

“I think it’s critically important to have a well-rounded recreation program,” Leiker said. “That includes programs for both adults and kids.”

One thing that needs to happen first is formation of a recreation commission, which would be able to levy taxes. Formation of the commission, but not the tax levy, will be a Nov. 8 ballot question for voters in the Marion-Florence school district.

Leiker cited state law requiring voter approval of a recreation commission to conduct recreation programs.

Marion’s former recreation program was operated jointly by the school district and the city.

In June 2021, the city deeded its baseball and softball complex to the school district and handed off recreation programming to the district.

As part of an agreement between the city and the district, the city remains responsible for programs related to tourism, festivals, and economic development while the district is responsible for recreational programs serving students and forming adult activities the district chooses to offer.

East Park, with tennis, handball, and basketball courts, a shelter, and play equipment was leased to the school district for $1 a year for 39 years. The district is responsible for payment of electricity bills and making the facilities available to the public.

Three other communities in the county have recreation commissions. Hillsboro’s recreation programs include gymnastics for ages up to 18, ballet and dance for children through adults, martial arts for youth and adults, youth field trips, tumbling for youngsters, yoga for ages 14 through adult, cooking classes for children and adults, and even knitting classes, recreation director Doug Sisk said.

The Hillsboro program is operated jointly by the school district and the city. For youths, it offers flag football, baseball and softball, tennis camps, golf camps, STEM camps, disc golf camps, arts and crafts camps, summer drama camps, volleyball camp and league, swim teams, and swimming lessons.

Beginner discs to use on the city’s disc golf course can be checked out at city hall, the swimming pool, and the sports complex.

“I try to encourage people to talk to me,” Sisk said. “If they have an idea they want brought, I’ll try to find an instructor for it.”

Sisk said Hillsboro recreation programs were open to anyone, but sports teams are not allowed to include participants who live in towns that have their own teams unless the recreation program there release the participants to Hillsboro.

“I was very disappointed with Marion when they gave the recreation program to the school,” Sisk said. “If they hire a full-time recreation director, I think they can hire a person who can do all the things we do over here.”

Sisk added that he hoped a recreation director for Marion will receive needed support.

“If you don’t give them the support, you’re not going to get what you need,” he said.

A “yes” vote on the question would permit the district to establish a commission and allow it to levy an annual property tax to support programs.

A “no” vote would not provide district-sponsored commission and related activities.

Nov. 1 will be the deadline for voters to apply for advance mail ballots.

Last modified Oct. 20, 2022

 

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