Our View: A win for student-athletes | SteamboatToday.com

Our View: A win for student-athletes

Kudos to the Steamboat Springs School District and the Steamboat Springs High School Booster Club for solving a $30,000 gap in athletic funding.

The $30,000 funding gap arose last month when the school district announced that because of increased fuel prices, it had incurred $30,000 in additional transportation costs for so-called Tier 2 sports. The district indicated a solution needed to be identified, both short-term and long-term, or sports might need to be cut. Given the importance such activities play in academic performance and school engagement, that would have been a travesty.

First, we salute the Booster Club. On Tuesday, the Booster Club held a fundraiser that produced more than $10,000 in new money for the club. Second, we salute the school district, which on Thursday shuffled staff, axed a new administrative position and leveled participation fees to the degree that all district sports — Tier 1 and Tier 2 — have enough funding for next year. That's certainly a great outcome for the community.

The Booster Club's Spring Luau fundraiser was a remarkable success considering how quickly it came together. Some 450 people attended the event. A number of businesses and individuals stepped up to help plan, organize and donate to the effort, and all should be commended. In particular, we should single out Pio Utu, whose selfless commitment to the community, especially its youth, makes him quite difficult to turn down when he lends his name to a cause. It is appropriate that the Booster Club's annual scholarships bear Utu's name.

The Booster Club hopes to make the Spring Luau an annual fundraiser. Coming as it does toward the end of the school year, the event can help re-fill the club's coffers heading into the new school year and make athletic budgeting easier for the club and the district.

At a budget workshop Thursday, Superintendent Brad Meeks announced the district was pulling a proposal to add an administrative assistant in the central office and restructuring middle school coaches to free up funds. In addition, the district announced it was imposing 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. The shifts produced about $19,000 in funds, leaving the Booster Club to make up $11,000, which is easier to do thanks to the Luau.

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We agree with Athletics Director Luke DeWolfe that the district's moves are a "good compromise." We also agree with DeWolfe that the shifts move the district a step closer to ending the system of tiered sports, in which the district's traditional sports (Tier 1) are funded at a higher level than Tier 2 sports that were added throughout the years because of student and parent interest. Parents historically have been asked to pay more for Tier 2 sports participation, and that was reasonable when those sports were in their infancy. But participation in Tier 2 sports has come to equal that of participation in Tier 1, and identifying a way to fund all sports equally and fairly is a laudable long-term goal.

In the meantime, let's applaud the school district and the Booster Club on getting all of the activities funded for this year and next. That's a big win for the hundreds of student-athletes in the district.

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