News
Prescott Wrestling Club season start mired in school district red tape

PRESCOTT – What was termed an overabundance of red tape within the facility use policy was brought to the attention of the Prescott School Board at its meeting Wednesday, Nov. 16.

What in past years has been a simple process of the Prescott Wrestling Club using facilities was mired in red tape this year, and the organization still can’t schedule practices in the high school wrestling room on its normally scheduled practice night if there is another event at the high school.

“I’m here to talk about the roadblocks and the red tape that are causing challenges for our pre-K through fifth grade youth practicing in the high school wrestling room,” said Matt Feran of the Prescott Wrestling Club.

He said the group has had to jump through hurdles with the district Activities and Athletic Director Andrew Caudill since August.

“Paying for use is not our issue. We have money to offer every year to the high school wrestling program. We do that every year. Insurance to cover liability is not a problem,” said Feran. “Our problem is not having access to the only viable wrestling room that is open at the time we’re requesting it.”

He said the club has a long history of working together with local families and the district.

“The Prescott Wrestling Club is one of the more formidable youth wrestling clubs in the area by numbers and levels of talent, and we’re not shy to say it,” he said. “We have 90 registered girls and boys in our youth program. We also have deep ties to the middle school and high school wrestling program. Our club offers opportunities for youth, boys and girls in the district, to get off technology for a few hours each week to work on becoming more athletic and participate with a team.”

The club has always practiced Tuesday and Thursday nights during the wrestling season, following the high school practice. It then puts on its Border Battle Tournament each February that draws hundreds of families to the community.

Feran said initially the club was told that the wrestling room use could be a problem because it would allow access to the adjacent weight room which Caudill told the group “creates too much liability to the district.”

“That was not a normal response that I’ve gotten in years past. It was much more vague and standoff-ish than how we’re usually approached, but I could work through it until there came references that the high school wrestling room could not be used at all. I immediately asked for a discussion with the athletic director face to face.”

Liability of the club using the facility was a big issue, but since the club is covered as a chapter of USA Wrestling, Feran didn’t believe there should be a problem at all. Weeks later, the club was informed that a club volunteer would need to make sure the youth wrestlers didn’t use the weight room if they were allowed in the wrestling room.

After submitting the certificate of insurance, weeks later, the club was informed that the school district’s legal counsel wanted to see USA Wrestling’s full insurance policy.

“I continue to ask is there someone else I can talk to directly? The athletic director says that I can’t do that, and I have to work through him,” Feran said. “I assure him that USA Wrestling is a large organization with 4,300 charter clubs, most of which operate with this coverage in school district facilities. Next, I have to communicate with the USA Wrestling leadership in Wisconsin and their insurance company. They say no other club has ever asked for the whole policy. I tell Andrew that and ask why there are so many hurdles.”

To use the wrestling room, in addition to the weight room-watcher, the club also has to chaperone kids to restrooms because the club isn’t allowed to use the locker room as it has in the past.

“The biggest issue came this week. We had to switch to Monday night since there was a girls basketball game on Tuesday. We only had 50 of our 90 wrestlers attend because of the schedule change,” Feran said. “I’ve talked to Rick (superintendent Dr. Rick Spicuzza) a couple times this week, and I still think the point is being missed. The point is that there’s no reason the Prescott Wrestling Club should not be practicing in the high school wrestling room, the only suitable wrestling room in the district which is open at the time we’re requesting it.”

He said the district didn’t think of organizations that benefit youth and the community in developing new rules. “The new requirements were made without consideration of the downstream impacts they’d have on our youth. And even though it’s clear that the requirements are limiting and unnecessary, those who made them are choosing not to change them,” said Feran.

He told the board that the organizations are run by parents that are also needed by the district as volunteers to support school programs.

“Why would the administration choose to alienate them?” Feran asked.

He requested that the board act to reinstate the club to be able to practice at its normal schedule.

“We hope for swift action, given we started all this with plenty of time three months ago in August, but due to administration misleading us in drawing out the process, the season has now started, and we’re already impacted,” Feran closed.

Board President Mike Matzek thanked Feran for bringing the issue to the board.

“Continue to work with Rick, and the board’s up to date now, so we appreciate it,” Matzek said. “Hopefully we can come to a resolution that works for everybody.”

Revaluation and property tax

With property revaluations reportedly jumping as high as 65 percent in Prescott School District townships, a resident spoke to the Prescott School Board at its meeting Wednesday night looking for clarification on what upcoming tax bills will look like.

The district cut its tax rate to support the 2022-23 school year tax levy from $10.23 per $1,000 of property valuation to $8.54 based on the increased valuation in the school district. The overall value of property in the district was expected to be up about 20 percent to $1,141,017,950, from $954,225,065, the school district reported this fall.

The City of Prescott did not reassess property this year, so city property owners should see a dip in the amount of their tax bill that goes to the PSD. A home valued at $250,000, would pay $2,135 to the district this year, compared to $2,557.50 a year ago.

Don’t expect property taxes to drop though. The City of Prescott, at its budget hearing Monday, Nov. 28, will present a 2023 budget with a levy increase of 8.2 percent. One rationale given by a city council member was that with the school tax rate dipping, the city could increase the amount it’s taxing and the overall bill should remain stable, compared to last year.

Todd Langenfeld, of Oak Grove, told the school board that they’ve put out the perception that taxes will be lower with the reduced tax rate.

“Seeing that since there’s been a reassessment going on and the average assessment, I believe is up 65 percent, I’m concerned about the fact that it appears that the perception is that taxes are going to be going down,” he said.

He said that reassessed properties could see their school taxes jump markedly, despite the lower tax rate.

Langenfeld urged citizens to attend the city budget hearing.

“I don’t want to see you get kicked in a couple of weeks,” he told the board. “A lot of you that are here may want to show up at the Prescott City Council meeting to discuss their budget, because they’re under the impressions that they can jack it up 10 percent, and it is not going to affect anybody,” he said. “That doesn’t seem to be the case.”

November 22, 2022