Forsyth County Schools continue athletic trainer funding talks

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- A contract agreement to fund certified athletic trainers in the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County school system is still up in the air.

The terms of the costly program remain unsettled as student-athletes head back to football practice fields, officials with the school system, Forsyth Medical Center and Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center all confirmed on Monday.

On Friday, a Baptist spokesman said via e-mail that "our goal is to have something soon."

Despite the unsettled terms, the trainers are expected to work Monday as hospital employees.

The million dollar contract to fund 12 trainers in each of the system's high schools expired June 1.

According to our partners at the Winston-Salem Journal, the costs for trainer salaries and medical equipment had been split for more than a year between the hospitals in exchange for advertisements in school facilities.

In July, the school board came up with a tentative plan to reduce costs for the program, proposing the trainers become school system employees, with the system footing $200 to $250,000 of the costs. The two hospitals would then chip in $250,000 each to continue providing equipment. The total proposed contract would result in nearly $400,000 worth of savings.

The need for trainers has been highlighted by the deaths of two local high school athletes. Matt Gfeller, a 15-year-old Reynolds High School linebacker, suffered a brain injury after colliding with another player in August 2008. Months later in December, 15-year-old Parkland High School JV basketball player Khalid Prince collapsed after making a shot during a game.

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