Budget cuts can be an intimidating prospect – with dollar signs and deadlines looming, it is easy to act hastily to remove cocurricular activities in favor of the traditional reading, writing and arithmetic. But cocurricular activities are a crucial part of education programs by promoting higher grade-point averages, better attendance records, lower dropout rates and fewer discipline problems from student-athletes. What if there was another way to help save cocurricular programs while maintaining the traditional aspects of a high school education?
When faced with such cuts in 2010, Brian Rothe, coordinator of athletics and activities at Washoe County (Nevada) School District, strove to find the best option that would have the least impact overall on the athletic programs.
“Participation is key,” Rothe said. “I often have arguments within our district when I claim that participation in athletic programs is one of our best intervention strategies.
“Athletic participation has proven over and over to have a positive effect on keeping kids on track in school and engaged in academic programs.”
In the end, Rothe decided to institute a $50 fee for each boys and girls golf participant to offset the cost of providing coaches, officials and golf course fees. Water polo, which was a club sport, also requires a fee. In addition, middle school sports seasons were reduced by two games to eight games total.
“By cutting the season back, we did not eliminate the programs completely,” Rothe said. “It was a compromise.”
It was a compromise that the schools were willing to work with and it is something that Rothe recommends other districts or schools make every effort toward when faced with similar issues.
“Try to find the compromise by reducing prior to eliminating,” Rothe said. “We have found that we have created partnerships with local entities that are now contributing to bring back schedules to pre-cutback levels with their support.”
Rothe said there has also been very little resistance to the extra fee from either the student-athletes or their parents in the five years since it was put in place.
“It was either pay the fee or lose the sport,” Rothe said. “I believe that we must consider the fee miniscule in comparison to what they pay to be involved in many club sport activities.
“Most of our [golf] courses pick up the playing fees, so it is still one of the best bargains on the planet!”
Juli Doshan is the graphic arts technician/editorial assistant in the NFHS Publications and Communications Department.