AURORA, Ill. (CBS) — A crowd of frustrated soccer moms, dads and players gathered Monday night at a meeting of Aurora’s Indian Prairie School Board, protesting a plan to eliminate middle school soccer.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports, the school district says abandoning its middle school soccer program will save $50,000. Indian Prairie School District 204 Supt. Kathy Birkett said in a letter Feb. 28 that the district needs the money.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports

More than $30 million has been shaved from the district’s budget in the last three years. The cuts have materialized in increased class sizes, higher fees, salary freezes and the elimination of 145 certified positions. Another $8.6 million is expected to be cut from the upcoming budget.

But the parents are asking, “Why focus on the elimination of soccer when so many other sports will remain unaffected?”

Traveling soccer can cost thousands of dollars, and the cut will affect about 280 young players, said soccer mom Christie Kruchten, who spoke at the meeting. She wore a black-and-white-striped shirt and stood in front of an audience of sign-waving soccer fans.

Kruchten launched an online petition to gain the public’s attention. She accumulated more than 400 signatures. One middle school student collected more than 100 of his own at school — and the board has received more than 50 emails from ambitious residents offering solutions.

Eliminating the soccer program is only one of several proposals for balancing the school district budget. The district is also considering staff reductions and student fee increases.

The Aurora Beacon-News contributed to this report, via the Sun-Times Media Wire.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2012. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)