Ann Arbor schools finalize high school sports cuts
This story has been updated
The final plan for the Ann Arbor schools 2011-12 athletic budget includes no increases to student participation fees, the elimination of eight sports and reduced funding for several teams, among other reductions.
Freshman football, boy’s basketball and volleyball will continue as fully funded sports due to their high participation numbers. Freshman girls’ basketball, baseball, softball and boys’ and girls’ soccer are all to be eliminated based on participation rates, costs and recommendations from coaches, according to an email sent to district families.
Boys’ and girls’ bowling at the junior varsity and varsity levels are set to be eliminated due to low participation numbers and youth league opportunities already available in the community. The teams have the option to become a club team if they are self-funded.
The fall crew season also will be eliminated. The district will still fund the spring season of crew and teams can continue the fall season if they become self-funded club teams.
Margolis said the district is confident that, despite eliminating three girls’ sports and two boys’ sports, the district will be satisfying all Title IX requirements.
“The ADs have looked at these as well as Dave (Comsa, assistant superintendent for human resources and legal services) and feel that we’re OK,” she said. “It’s about accommodation and opportunity and we still feel that we fall well within Title IX implications.”
According to the email to district families, all three high schools will contract out for their athletic trainers, Pioneer and Huron High School will reduce an athletic secretary position from full-time to part-time, non-Ann Arbor schools coaching staff will be contracted out and ice hockey teams will be required to contribute rental fees for ice time.
Cheerleading at Huron High School and dance at Skyline High School will continue as varsity sports.
The boys’ and girls’ lacrosse teams will maintain their varsity status for the 2011-12 seasons and will move to club status in the 2012-13 seasons, according to the email. No other school in the Southeastern Conference funds lacrosse as a varsity sport.
Reductions coming from the Pioneer and Huron figure skating programs will consist of reducing the coaching salary to reflect hours and days of coaching, as well as schools not paying fees for competitions or ice time.
The junior varsity field hockey teams will no longer have the second junior varsity team coach funded by the school, but teams have the option to fund the coach themselves. The two junior varsity teams will rotate in competition.
Huron and Pioneer boys’ and girls’ track teams will each reduce one assistant coach position and Skyline will not add an assistant coach, bring the total coaching staff for each program to one head coach and two assistant coaches.
The district’s athletic budget was reduced by $475,000 for the 2011-12 school year as a part of the AAPS plan to fill an approximately $15 million deficit in the district’s budget.
The district originally announced cuts to athletics in late June before the three high school athletic directors were told to try again by the school board. The athletic directors met with booster groups and community members before the meeting where they presented their new recommendations.
Student athletes will pay $150 for their first sport, $75 for their second sport and no fee for any more sports. Middle school students will pay $50 annually to participate in sports. The committee had discussed a $250 flat fee or a $50 per sport increase, which would have raised revenue by an estimated $150,000.
At an Ann Arbor Board of Education planning committee meeting last week, the three high school athletic directors recommended increasing pay-to-participate fees to raise revenue.
Margolis said the decision to not raise participation fees came after the district realized some unexpected savings from an audit on who was and wasn’t eligible to be covered on the district’s health care plan. She said eliminating some ineligible users brought some unexpected savings.
“We found some favorable expenditures we had not counted on through some health care savings and we couldn’t justify raising the fee this year when we found some unexpected expenditures and came back in a more favorable position,” Margolis said.
A report from Michigan Capitol Confidential in June revealed that Ann Arbor schools spent $768,000 on ineligible dependents in 2010.
According to the email, the district will be investigating intramural programs for the 2011-12 school year.
“We will work with a committee to investigate the ability to form before and after-school intramural high school athletic activities to supplement competitive programs,” the email stated, mentioning that Community Education and Recreation Department may expand their programs to find opportunities for freshman baseball and girls’ basketball.
Margolis said there are no plans immediately for intramural teams to take place, but she said district officials will be looking to explore how feasible the idea is.
She said Pioneer principal Michael White has some experience working in a school with a intramural program and the district will work with parents and staff to explore the idea. Margolis said having a girl’s basketball program held in the gym before school or in the time immediately after school when the schools’ gyms are not being used for practice is an example of what might be able to work.
“We don’t have a plan yet, but we’re committed to sitting down and seeing what’s feasible,” she said.