Budget crisis forces district to look for different ways to fund activities

Posted: Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Currently, the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District contributes roughly $1.2 million to fund activities, though there are other items in the budget, such as the $80,000 to $100,000 a year paid out to substitute teachers for coaches who miss class to travel with their teams, that can boost that number to $1.3 million.

In the 2002-03 school year, the district spent $1.4 million on activities, said the district's financial officer Melody Douglas. Of that, $230,000 went toward salaries for athletic directors and $735,000 covered stipends for coaches and advisers.

The other $435,000 covered travel expenses which were cut from this year's budget and benefits associated with the salaries and stipends, plus a few miscellaneous expenses.

However, as the continuing financial crisis has forced more and more budget cuts, the district last fall began looking for ways to fund activities outside of its operating budget.

The school district funds about a third of the total cost of activities, according to Joe Arness, a former school board member who sat on the district's cocurricular activities task force.

Schools are responsible for covering the other two-thirds of the equation, picking up the costs of equipment, supplies, uniforms, referees and officials, and, this year, travel costs.

Some of those expenses are covered through participation fees, which were implemented in 1991 and, at that time, were $50.

Participation fees steadily have increased, including a 50 percent increase from last year to this year, and now stand at $100 for sports with shorter seasons, such as cross country running, and $150 for sports with longer seasons, like football and basketball.

The rest of the bills are paid through fund-raising efforts by teams, clubs and booster organizations. Schools also make a little bit of money through tickets and gate receipts at games.

District assistant superintendent Sam Stewart said participation fees also cover about 100 stipends for assistant coaches throughout the district not accounted for in the district's budget.

While the majority of the district's funding goes to coaches and advisers for high school programs, activities funds also are distributed to middle and elementary schools.

According to information provided by Stewart and Douglas, the district provides funding for 249 high school stipends, 141 middle school stipends, 56 elementary school stipends and 12 stipends at the district's small schools Cooper Landing, Moose Pass, Port Graham, Razdolna and Voznesenka.

The amount of each stipend varies from $204 to $3,649, and high school advisers and coaches are generally paid more than their middle school counterparts.

Eighty percent of the approximately $742,000 budgeted for stipends this year goes to high school programs; of that, roughly $106,800 is earmarked for performing arts, clubs and yearbooks while $486,700 goes toward athletics programs.

About $123,900, or 16.7 percent of the money for stipends, goes to middle schools, with intramural programs getting $16,100; athletics getting $99,100 and music and forensics getting $8,600.

About $25,000 is dedicated to stipends for elementary schools and the borough's small schools and is used at the discretion of each school.

Some elementary schools have wrestling, skiing, dance and art programs; others use the money on field trips or other special projects that enhance the classroom curriculum.

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