I happened to catch a tweet from @jenmenke the other day that brought to light something that may become very common this year. Schools are faced with some tough decisions:
Just heard our school district may be cutting high school soccer to meet budget. Very bad news.
Tax revenues are falling across the country as the economy continues to decline. Schools are facing serious budget shortfalls, with many in dire straights because they could never get fully funded during the boom times. My kid’s elementary schools are already running out of supplies and out of money to buy more this year. Does this mean school sports programs could be cut?
School districts have threatened to cut sports programs to get bonds and budgets passed by voters for years. But that was usually to fund new school construction and such. This is different. Tax revenue is cliff diving, and schools are facing some very serious choices in the coming year. This might be the time when districts have to cut sports to balance their budgets. The key is will the cuts be fair?
Now, we all know it’ll be a cold day in hell before any HS football program gets cut. Some things are just sacred in the id of America. The schools would have to be borderline having their electricity cut off for non payment before the cut football. But, football programs are also notorious over funded compared to other sports. So if your district starts making noise about cutting sports, the only way to save your sport (be it soccer or something else) is to raise enough ruckus and ask what cuts are being made to football as well. Share the pain. Because for many schools, they’ll happily cut an entire sport like soccer before they cut one of the dozen or so assistant coaches a football program might have.
So parents need to be vigilant about this. It may not change things, but you never know. Local youth leagues also need to stay engaged. Your players will want to play for their school – you should try to ensure they have a program to go to. Rally your parents and send them to a board meeting. If 20% of our league’s parents went to a board meeting (200) – it would make a heck of a point.
So just keep your eyes and ears open as to when your district will be publicizing budget drafts and when they’ll be discussing them. Go to a board meeting and ask them flat out what they’re thinking related to sports and the upcoming budgets.
School and education come first – obviously. If sports have to be cut to keep budgets afloat during these tough times, so be it. But just make sure the cuts are fair to all and not targeted at sports that certain ADs may not understand or like.
Is your district considering drastic steps like this? Are the cuts across the board or targeted?