Budget concerns could affect sports

District looks to cut officials to save money

Students at Moffat County High School and Craig Middle School may see changes in their sports, clubs and activities during the next school year.

During Thursday’s work session of the Moffat County School Board, members of the district’s Activities Council presented the committee’s recommendations for budget adjustments.

MCHS athletic director Richard Wildenhaus spoke on behalf of the group, as did Jill Hafey, the assistant principal and athletic director of CMS. CMS principal Bill Toovey also attended the session.

“These numbers weren’t just numbers that we thought up,” Toovey told the school board. “These were based on a lot of research.”

During her portion of the presentation, Hafey suggested budget cuts in officials for football, volleyball, wrestling and boys and girls basketball. Hafey recommended lessening the number of football officials from four to three, setting the number of basketball officials at two per game and one per match per grade level for volleyball.

Making this adjustment would save the district about $2,720. Hafey also recommended cuts in travel adjustments and tournament participation, among other changes.

To increase revenue, Hafey advocated increasing athletic participation fees and the possibility of charging CMS students receiving free and reduced lunches a participation fee.

School Board President Jo Ann Baxter expressed concern that students whose families had budgetary constraints would be discouraged by being charged a fee for middle school activities. Board member Karen Stillion disagreed, saying that having an option for students with financial difficulties to work off their fee would instill a sense of pride.

Other recommended adjustments for CMS athletics included the possibility of cutting the cheerleading program because of dwindling participation, which would save an estimated $1,000. Hafey also recommended reinstating the cross country program, pending a qualified coach and the availability of at least three tournaments within a reasonable travel range. A renewed cross country team would cost $2,000, but with other adjustments, the budget would remain balanced.

As for the high school, Wildenhaus recommended similar adjustments, such as cutting the coach of the dance team, saving $3,300 as part of a merger of the cheer team and dance team into one “spirit team.”

For other sports, Wildenhaus proposed moving from a three-year to a four-year rotation for uniforms, reducing the total number of games for junior varsity teams and minimizing travel. He also recommended decreasing subsidies to student groups and encouraging them to take the initiative to raise funds.

One of the points Wildenhaus emphasized was that the Activities Council did not want to completely cut any high school sports or activities.

“I’m not interested in limiting opportunities for students,” he said.

Superintendent Joe Petrone praised the council for its budget work.

“It’s not easy to go through these difficult decisions,” Petrone said.

The school board will take the budget adjustment recommendations into consideration over the next two months.

Assistant Superintendent Christine Villard said other committees will present their own findings and recommendations, all of which will be taken into consideration by the board and district Finance Director Mark Rydberg.

“It’s still in continuous revision,” Villard said.

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