Editorial Board, February to May 2012
- Scott Stanford, general manager
- Brent Boyer, editor
- Tom Ross, reporter
- Karen Massey, community representative
- Jeff Swoyer, community representative
Contact the editorial board at 970-871-4221 or editor@SteamboatToday.com. Would you like to be a member of the board? Fill out a letter of interest now.
The Steamboat Springs School District should find a way to fund a shortfall in its prep sports programs next year without shouldering families with additional fees.
The district’s proposed 2012-13 budget calls for a $25 increase in student activity fees to help make up an estimated $30,000 shortfall in the athletic department’s transportation budget. Bumping those fees from $150 per student-athlete to $175 is one way of helping to ensure all existing high school sports remain in place next year while a long-term solution to sports funding is identified, but it’s not the best way.
Steamboat Springs High School already has one of the highest activity fee rates in the state. Further burdening the families of student-athletes isn’t the right approach to sustaining extracurricular programs proven to improve grades and attendance while also promoting physical activity, teamwork and other positive social interactions.
Further, a $25 increase in activity fees would raise only $14,000 or so per year, and that’s only if the cost increase doesn’t force some families to forego scholastic sports, as we fear it might. To make up the rest of that $30,000 athletics department budget shortfall, the district also is considering eliminating the family activity fee max of $350 as well as reconfiguring the salary schedule for middle school sports coaches. Combined, those two steps would save an additional $8,500, meaning even with the $25 fee increase, the district would still be short another $8,000.
We’re supportive of eliminating the family maximum and restructuring the salary schedule for middle school coaches, but we maintain that the district should look from within to find the lion’s share of the money needed to fund the sports department.
Superintendent Brad Meeks, for example, could forego hiring another administrative assistant for the district’s central office, a proposal that was met with criticism from some parents and School Board members on Monday night. Meeks said the new position would be funded in part by $31,500 in savings the district will realize by not hosting a health and wellness fair.
As we’ve previously pointed out, this district has committed more than $600,000 in the past year to a new curriculum director administrative position, a new health clinic and pay raises for all teachers and staff. It’s hard to believe a significantly smaller sum of money can’t be identified, particularly when it has a direct impact on students.
We appreciate that Meeks and other district officials are seeking a short-term solution that doesn’t eliminate existing sports programs while still focusing on a long-term solution that will make the district’s athletics department sustainable for future generations of student-athletes. But we think the short-term answer isn’t to increase the financial burden on student-athletes and their families.