Steamboat Springs School District retools athletic funding plan

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— The Steamboat Springs School District has a new plan to cover its athletic funding shortfall next school year.

At a budget workshop Thursday night, Superintendent Brad Meeks said the district has nixed a proposal to add an administrative assistant in the central office and instead will use $12,000 of that position’s salary to cover a portion of the athletic department’s $30,000 budget gap.

The district also is abandoning a plan to increase the participation fees for all student athletes from $150 to $175. Instead, the new plan would impose a mandatory $30 Booster Club fee on all Tier 1 athletes. The fee currently is optional for Tier 1 participants but mandatory for Tier 2 athletes.

Meeks said the move will net an estimated $3,760, and the Steamboat Booster Club will be charged with contributing about $11,000 to mend the shortfall.

In addition, the restructuring of some coaching positions at the middle school will add an estimated $3,285 to the budget, and the $12,000 from the administrative assistant’s salary will cover the rest of the budget gap. The family maximum of $350 will stay in place.

“From the beginning, we’ve really tried to avoid raising fees,” Athletics Director Luke DeWolfe said when reached by phone after Thursday’s budget workshop. “I think this is a good compromise. It doesn’t raise (participation) fees, and at the same time, I think it empowers our Booster Club.”

DeWolfe said all of the revenue generated from the proposal directly will support transportation costs for both tiers of sports. He added the new plan ultimately will move the district a step closer to getting rid of the tiered structure and putting all sports “on an even footing.”

Meeks said he wants to have a long-term plan to solve the athletic department’s budget situation by Dec. 1 and the start of the next budget cycle.

“The current plan doesn’t solve all of the problems, but it moves us closer to a solution,” DeWolfe said. “I think it’s great the district stepped up to solve the problem.”

The proposal to hire an additional secretary for the district’s central office drew criticism from several parents and some School Board members during a budget workshop earlier this month. Meeks said Thursday the need for the $34,000 position still exists, but he felt the funds this year could be better used elsewhere in the district. In addition to converting $12,000 of the salary to athletic funding, $22,000 will be available for campuses to use to purchase curriculum-related materials they cannot afford in their own budgets. The School Board will adopt a final budget for next year on June 4.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com

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