Fulton’s girls swim team, boys freshmen basketball team and second modified football team would be eliminated under plans submitted by the Athletic Director to help fill the district’s huge budget deficit for next year.
Superintendent of Schools Bill Lynch said he asked Athletic Director Christopher Ells to come up with plans to cut athletics spending at several levels.
He said the goal was to cut spending but to keep as many opportunities as possible for students to participate in sports while preserving student safety.
Three teams would be eliminated:
The girls varsity swim team would be merged with the boys team. The girls swim in the fall, while the boys swim in the winter. Mixed-sex teams are not uncommon in Section III. “Both boys and girls swim is struggling,with 10 on each team this year and only a projection of 8 each next year” a memo on the proposed changes says. Girls would have to compete against boys who are, on average, faster at the varsity level or could focus on competing on the YMCA club team, but the change would still give girls an opportunity to swim. The change would save $9,000;
The boys freshmen basketball team would be eliminated, saving $6,500. The memo notes that the team suffered this past year from low numbers and only had 9 students on the roster at the end of the season. The cut would leave between 5 and 8 students without a basketball team next year;
The second modified football team would be eliminated, saving $2,500. The team as created because of large numbers of students wanting to play.
In addition, the fall cheerleading team would be limited to performing at home games only, in order to save $2,500 in travel expense. The memo notes that the team could perform at other home games, such as soccer.
Other proposed cuts:
Cutting $10,000 in athletic supplies and equipment. The memo notes that the athletic booster club “will assist when needed” on supplies and equipment purchases;
Reducing the number of supervisors and game clock operators, who are paid a rate that’s part of the the district’s contract with its unions, saving $8,000. They would be replaced by volunteers. The memo notes that booster club members are interested in being trained for those positions;
Limiting the hockey team’s practices to 2 hours, saving $500. The district pays rental fees to the city for use of the rink. The memo notes many practices ran past the 2 hour limit and suggests coaches use the extra time for work in the weight room or other types of practice away from the ice;
Cutting some overnight or long day trips for wrestling competitions, to save $1,000. The memo notes that the district will look for ways to wrestle closer to home and limit participation in tournaments;
Eliminating some assistant coaches, saving $11,000. The assistant coaches for the boys soccer, boys lacrosse and girls lacrosse teams would be eliminated. Lynch said assistant coaches would be preserved on teams, mainly those involving hard physical contact, where the coaches play a role in student safety.
The cuts would lop off about 10% of the department’s budget.
More drastic plans for deeper cuts have been drawn up but have not been discussed in public, Lynch said.
The more than $1 million in cuts in athletics and all other areas that have been proposed so far have narrowed the district’s deficit to about $600,000.