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Valley football not affected by possible officials strike

Despite the possibility of a boycott by high school football officials during week one of the regular season in the Cleveland area, there are currently no plans for a boycott by officials in the Mahoning Valley, according to Youngstown District Football Officials Association (YDFOA) president Tony Tarantino.

A report by WYKC in Cleveland Tuesday said that the Cleveland Football Officials Association (CFOA) had made a formal request to local athletics conferences to raise pay for athletics officials. The CFOA asked that pay be increased to $80 per game for this upcoming season, with incremental increases to $90 in 2023 and $100 in 2024.

OHSAA director of officiating and sport management Beau Rugg said that there has been a lot of negotiation all over the state this year on pay for officials.

However, despite the issues in the Cleveland area, Tarantino confirmed Wednesday that there are no issues at present time between the YDFOA and local athletics conferences. Tarantino said most football officials across the Valley presently earn between $72-78 per game.

“We don’t feel like that’s highly unreasonable for this area,” Tarantino said. “I think we need more money (overall), but under the circumstances, the kind of stuff going on in Cleveland is mainly just the (CFOA).”

Tarantino said he just found out about the CFOA’s boycott plans on Tuesday.

“It has nothing to do with the Youngstown and Mahoning Valley area,” Tarantino said.

However, Tarantino reiterated the ongoing official shortage that is affecting youth and high school sports nationally. From 2018 to 2021, an estimated 50,000 high school officials, or about 20 percent, quit, Dana Pappas, the director of officiating services for the National Federation of State High School Sports, told the New York Times in April.

“This official shortage, everything is coming to a head now,” Tarantino said. “We’ve been working on this for the last five years. What are we going to do, because we’re all getting older and there’s not enough people. “

“I’m actually the instructor for the Youngstown district. I’ve been teaching the class for the last 10 years. We had a great class last year — we had 20 kids come through, but then how do we keep them in the program is the hard part.”

Northeast-8 Conference commissioner Rob Conklin acknowledged the issues that schools and conferences face with regards to officials.

“Officiating fees, like all expenses, have been on the rise and our member schools and leadership are very aware and have been proactive in addressing,” Conklin said in an email.

But, Conklin also emphasized the Northeast-8’s ongoing partnership with local athletics officials.

“The NE-8 is confident that our current officiating fee schedule is competitive and we will continue to adjust the fee structure as necessary to maintain the high level of officiating our member schools have come to expect,” Conklin said.

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