Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Athletics budgets on the chopping block

I ran across this note on the Shenendehowa High School website today, which included this nugget of information on how the district plans on cutting back on the athletic budget for the 2009-10 school year:

9.Reduce athletic budget by 10-15% through reductions in game schedule by limit to sectional play; transportation costs by consolidating of trips; supplies; rental costs; and delaying the implementation of several modified level teams, saving approximately $125,802

That is a lot of money, and it's no surprise that budgets are being cut back with times such as they are and especially after the New York State Public High School Athletic Association decided to lower the number of possible games played in most sports a few months ago.

But here was the really important line in the Shenendehowa statement:

2.Reduction of 19.1 FTE instructional staff members at the secondary level mostly through retirements and vacant positions, saving approximately $1,058,500

FTE (Full Time Equivalent) instructional staff members = plain old regular teachers to you and me. With a big, affluent district like Shenendehowa facing the prospect of laying off up to 19 teachers, plus a number of administrative staff members - check the memo for full details - perhaps seeing a slimming in the athletic budget to save a teacher's job or two doesn't seem so bad after all.

That said, I think there are plenty of ways schools can maximize their budget while keeping the local high school sports scene running just as we know it now. For basketball games, schools could probably put the modified, JV and Varsity teams and cheerleaders all on the same bus, making only one round-trip journey to a road game. Sure, it's some extra time waiting around but the players could probably get some homework done in the bleachers during the modified game and I'm sure the modified kids would love having a couple of varsity guys at the end of the bench giving tips and handing out water.

I know it is hard to collect admissions at baseball games and softball games, tennis matches and track meets, but I think plenty of parents would go out of their way to drop off two or three dollars a few times a week to help offset the cost of officials so that their children can keep playing the sport in future seasons.

The morale of the story is that school districts are facing a giant budget crunch and athletics, along with art and music programs, will likely be the first areas to see cuts so the districts can save as many teachers and staff as possible to help give students the best education. Most schools are having open budget forums in the coming weeks before the school vote, so if you want to sound off about saving as much of the athletics budget as possible, or if you have solutions, remember that you have the right to attend these meetings and let your school board representatives know what you think.

I did a quick search of other local school websites and couldn't find anything as open about athletics as Shenendehowa was, but please let me know if you see any information out there or hear of any developments on the budget front. It will be an interesting story to track, especially as budget votes near in the coming weeks and months.



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October 16, 2009 at 11:36 PM 

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