Our View: School district should fully fund athletics

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Reader poll

The Steamboat Springs School District is facing a $70,000 shortfall to fully fund all 22 athletic programs next school year. Which of the following funding options do you support?

  • Seeking a subsidy from the school district. 18%
  • Cutting athletic programs, including skiing and golf. 24%
  • Increasing athletic fees. 27%
  • Introducing a new $85 participation fee on extracurricular activities, including Science Olympiad, National Honor Society, band and choir. 26%
  • I don’t support any of the changes. (Share your idea in a comment below.) 6%

269 total votes.

Editorial Board, January to May 2013

  • Scott Stanford, general manager
  • Brent Boyer, editor
  • Tom Ross, reporter
  • Randy Rudasics, community representative
  • John Centner, 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 wide array of sports offered at Steamboat Springs High School is one of the school’s greatest attributes, and we urge school officials to work diligently to solve a funding shortfall without cutting such activities.

More than 500 students participate in the high school’s 22 sports. That’s an astounding number of which the school can and should be proud. We have made this point before: Athletics not only promote good health and teach lifelong lessons about teamwork and effort, but also are key to keeping youths engaged in school. There is overwhelming evidence that kids who participate in sports perform better academically and are less likely to drop out.

That’s why it’s disheartening to hear Steamboat Springs School Board President Brian Kelly suggest that the district consider cutting sports to make up for a $70,000 budget shortfall in the athletic budget.

We agree with Kelly that it’s difficult to push more fees onto parents who already pay significantly for their children to participate in sports. And we don’t support retaining sports programs for which participation has fallen below what is enough to field a team. But otherwise, preserving athletic programs at the school should be of the highest priority, not because of what happens on the field but because of what sports does for youths off it.

Last spring, the school district found itself about $30,000 short on the funding it needed to pay for athletic transportation. The district restructured staff and fees to find $19,000. The Steamboat Springs High School Booster Club put together a fundraiser and came up with an additional $11,000. But both sides knew it was a short-term solution.

This time, we hope the district works to put in place a long-term solution.

Realistically, $70,000 isn’t much for a school district with a $22 million operating budget, including a half-cent sales tax that provides in excess of $2 million per year to enhance education in Routt County. Putting it in simpler terms, the athletic funding shortfall boils down to about one full-time employee within the district.

Recently, the school district asked the Education Fund Board to pay $1.3 million to fund 22 teachers in the district. Maybe this is overly simplistic, but why couldn’t the district amend its Fund Board request to include 21 teachers and ask for the rest to help fund all 22 athletic programs at the high school?

There may be other, better approaches. But make no mistake: We think spending $70,000 to fully fund sports that engage more than 500 high school students is a much better academic investment than spending nearly the same amount to try to achieve an incremental decrease in class size that has, at best, dubious academic benefit.

The athletic programs at Steamboat Springs High School challenge students to keep their grades up and make good choices off the field. They fill students’ time with healthy activity. They teach students time management, sportsmanship and teamwork. They are invaluable, and we think our school district should do everything within its power to build, not cut, such activities.

Comments

steve gadbois 12 months ago

I think it would be interesting for you to discover how many Steamboat Springs High School athlete's are Academic All-State each year, during their seasons? I know the answer to this (mostly) and that answer provides further affirmation to your last paragraph!

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Scott Wedel 12 months ago

Editor,

Does this paper ever intend to stop repeating the same lie that "more than 500 high school students" participate in sports?

It has been posted enough to enough articles and I have even discussed it with Brent.

Many students participate in several sports. So 500 participants in the different sports does not mean there are 500 DIFFERENT participants. If every sports athlete playing in two sports then there would be 250 students participating in sports, not 500.,

Maybe someone on the high school newspaper has the journalistic skill to learn how many students participate in school athletics, and how many participate in two or three sports. Obviously, no one at the SB Pilot is able to figure out that some students play more than one sport.

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Dan Kuechenmeister 12 months ago

Hey Scott, Other then Diane Mitsch Bush and tighter gun control laws is there any thing you do like. My goodness you are every where. Maybe there are more then one of you. All the best. Dan

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