North Kitsap school sports face more reductions

POULSBO — A committee formed seven years ago has again been charged with finding ways to cut from the athletic and activities budget in the North Kitsap School District.

The Athletics and Activities Committee was recently asked to make recommendations for $30,000 and $60,000 in reductions to the athletic and activities budget — two scenarios which would affect the middle and high schools. The amounts reflect decisions made by the Washington State Legislature and the amount actually reduced will be based around further cuts to K-12 funding.

The entire budget for athletics and activities was $989,452 for the 2010-11 school year. Total district expenditures for 2010-11 were budgeted at $65,861,179. Though the committee has had one meeting, in which no recommendations were made, committee member Lael Stock said reducing the budget by even $30,000 will be difficult.

"To shave off $30,000 is tough. We're already bare-bones now," she said.

Stock has served on the committee since it was first established. She said being asked to find reductions in the budget is not unusual, but it's not any easier.

As a parent of students who were engaged in athletics in the district, Stock said she found it a good way to keep students engaged in school. Because students are required to keep grades up to participate in athletics, she said it can be a motivational tool.

The budget cuts to athletics stem from an estimated shortfall in the budget, in which the ending balance for the district will be about $2,347,844. This ending balance is $750,000 short of the district's recommended 5 percent carryover into the next school year.

The committee consists of 15 members, which include athletic directors, coaches, parents, administration and booster club members. Director of Secondary Education Aaron Leavell is mediator for the committee. So far, the committee has made inquiries toward everything to do with athletics, including transportation costs and coaching stipends, Leavell said.

"When you're looking at the cut overall, it's not a huge chunk," Leavell said. "But we want to be able to continue offering these programs for our kids."

An alternative to budget reductions is an increase in student participation fees, which Stock said has recommended in the past.

The current athletic participation fee is $75 per sport at the high school level and $50 per sport at the middle school level. A student involved in multiple sports can pay a total of $150 at high school and $100 at middle school. Students must also pay $35 for an ASB card.

The committee will meet again on April 7 to continue the discussion around the cuts. "We're just trying to wade through it all right now," Leavell said.

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