School athletic programs receive boost in funds
Uniforms, transportation and equipment all add up for the area’s student athletes.
But some financial burden could be lifted in the next school year when the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District restores money that was previously cut from sports.
“It’s still not meeting all the needs, but it’s going to help,” said board Trustee Bev Ducey of the $61,919 the district will factor back into the athletic budget in the 2006-07 academic year.
“Our athletic programs are under-funded. Our students are paying fees to participate, and because of the relative geographic isolation of our district, program related transportation costs have been a significant issue,” said trustee Bill Kraus.
The funds ” 25 percent of the athletic budget ” were cut in 2004-05 when the school district was struggling from state funding reductions and chopped $800,000 in order to give employees a 3 percent salary increase for medical benefits, said board president Kristy Olk.
However, this year the district received a $3.5 million increase in property tax revenue, and decided to restore some previously slighted programming, Olk said.
She noted that 78 percent of the new money will go to employee salaries and associated costs, leaving about $730,000 for other uses, such as increasing reserves for economic uncertainty, development of an emergency communication system and the restoration of some previously cut positions.
“We have been cutting, cutting, cutting over the past few years and there are now programs that are not sufficiently funded and are an integral part of the student experience,” Olk said. “We are making progress toward our goal, but there are not unlimited funds and there are competing needs. But we are fortunate that we got as much as we did.”
In an effort to more responsibly re-allocate the athletic funds, Ducey said the board will form a committee to research the cost of each school sport and come up with a funding scheme based on individual team needs, not school size.
“We are not at a point where we can fund athletics at 100 percent, so there will still be a need for booster clubs and other support,” Ducey said.
But district Superintendent Dennis Williams said the reinstated funding could take a substantial burden off boosters and other fundraisers.
For the most part, funding has been completely allocated for the 2006-07 school year, but Olk said she was cautiously optimistic about the amount of property tax revenues the district could receive next time around, and that future money will go toward district goals including student achievement and staff development.