State College, PA - Centre County - Central Pennsylvania - Home of Penn State University

Possible Athletics, Extracurricular Cuts to Go Before State College School Board

on April 23, 2011 9:30 AM

A new round of expense-cut options will go before the State College school board on Monday, this one centered on athletics and other extracurricular activities.

The proposals prepared by the district administration outline several ways the schools could reduce extracurricular costs and raise new revenue in the next school year. The options represent the latest step as the district copes with a budget deficit projected in the several-million-dollar range.

These proposals -- to be clear -- are not a replacement for the substantial staffing reductions proposed earlier in the month; rather, they mark an additional effort to help close the budget gap.

Among the proposals to be introduced Monday:

  • The district could reduce, by 10 percent, of the maximum number of allowable contests in each PIAA sport in the district. That could save about $150,000 in annual expenses.
  • The district could share the expense of PIAA sports with the student-athletes -- and their families. That could offset the cost to the district. Charging a $20-per-athlete participation fee for PIAA sports could raise about $33,000 a year; a $50 fee, about $82,000.
  • Rather than eliminate intramural sports entirely -- an option floated earlier this month -- the district could cut by 50 percent the number of days each IM sport is offered, and cap participation levels. This move could save $36,500 at the elementary level and $36,000 at the secondary level.
  • Also on the intramural front, the district could save $18,000 by cutting from four to three the number of districtwide elementary-level intramural sports (swimming, skiing, volleyball, and track-and-field).
  • Again, in order to help avoid complete elimination of intramural sports, the district could charge intramural participation fees. A $20-per-student fee would raise about $22,000 annually at the secondary level and $41,000 at the elementary level. A $50 fee would boost those revenue levels to $54,000 and $102,000, respectively.

In addition, a reduction in district funding for student clubs and other activities could save as much as 30 percent -- some $134,000 -- of the $462,000 that the district now spends yearly on those groups. Much of that reduction would involve cutting the stipends now granted to employees who advise the groups on a part-time basis.

Administration-supplied budget options show that perhaps 60 of 200 activity-advisor stipends could be eliminated districtwide, effectively axing those 60 advisor roles. The club-and-activity reductions also could involve paring district funds for field trips, equipment, special events and other travel for certain groups. (Many groups rely on a combination of district monies and private fundraising.)

An administration-prepared document shows more than 50 student groups could be affected under the possible club-and-activity cuts. The groups that could be affected are split into three lists. The first list notes those groups with the least relationship to current curriculum, according to the district administration.

The other two lists note groups with closer relationships to the current curriculum, the administration reported. The lists were developed with an eye toward the respective numbers of students involved in each group, too, the budget documents show.

School-board members could choose to execute cuts for all the activities noted on the administration's lists, or for some combination thereof, the administration has suggested. Also, the budget documents show a flat participation fee -- $25 per student, to allow access to all student clubs and activities -- could raise $10,000 a year in new revenue. (Some student groups already levy participant fees to offset their expenses.)

To read a complete version of the latest budget options, go to this district website page and click on "attachment VI-A." You'll receive a PDF download; it includes a detailed lists of student activities that could be affected.

The Monday school-board meeting -- where budget discussions will continue -- is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. It will be held in the State College Municipal Building, 243 S. Allen St., and will appear live on C-NET's CETV channel (Channel 98 on the local Comcast system). Within several days of the meeting, a recording of the event will appear on the C-NET website.

The school district's 2011-2012 budget is expected to be finalized by June. No budget votes are expected Monday.

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