The St. Michael-Albertville school district took steps last week to fund more coaches, increase supply budgets and add a new high school soccer team. To accomplish these goals, the school board voted to approve fee hikes for athletics and activities. Here’s the breakdown of the increases and how they will use the extra funds.
Middle school athletics fees will increase from $110 this school year to $130 for 2018-19 and then to $150 for 2019-20. Music participation fees will increase from $25 to $50, and activity fees will increase $20 per year for the next two years.
Middle level activity director, Scott Sukalski, said that coaching levels have remained nearly stagnant at the middle level despite increasing participation levels. Their athletic programs have gained 338 students between 2008-2009 and this year, an increase of 41 percent, yet they have added only 1.5 coaches in that time.
Compared to other local middle schools athletic programs, STMA has about half the number of coaches as others in the sports where Middle Schools East and West have separate teams.
The district aims to increase their middle school coaching roster by 11 coaches for next school year and another 12 the year after that. This will cost approximately $44,000, and the district estimates the increased fees will raise an additional $40,000 in funds.
In addition to athletics coaches, they plan to increase the number of paid extra-curricular music advisors from four to eight, since music program participation has increased 127 percent over the past four years. This will cost around $7,700 dollars, but the additional fees should raise an additional $8,000.
High School Activities Director, Keith Cornell, said STMA has a very high participation rate in their athletics and activities compared with similar school districts, and he credits the availability of school-sponsored activities at the middle level to keeping students engaged and involved. He said many schools do not offer middle school athletics, and students must go through clubs and leagues to participate in sports.
“I think it’s really helping our high school numbers,” he said.
High school athletic fees will increase from $160-$185 this year to $180-$205 in 2018-10 and $200-$225 in 2019-2020, bringing in an additional $33,500 next year and $28,500 the year after. The high school will also raise activity fees and adaptive athletic fees $10 per year for the next two years, which currently sit at $130. Additionally, the high school will add a weightlifting fee of $50 for next school year and increase that fee to $75 the year after that.
Individual caps will go from $375 to $500, and family caps will increase from $650 to $800.
These additional funds will switch 11 booster club-paid coaches to district-funded positions next school year and switch six more to district-funded in 2019, along with increasing supply budgets starting in 2019. Supply budgets have not increased for many years despite participation increases, Cornell said. Booster clubs funds sometimes pay for for an entire team’s worth of coaching costs, and Cornell said that funding the positions through the school eliminates the possibility of a whole team being cut due to fundraising shortfalls.
The high school will also add a fourth soccer team to their boys program due to increasing participation.
“It’s still a pretty good bargain for our student athletes, in comparison to other school districts but really in comparison to when their son or daughter plays outside of district sports,” board chair Drew Scherber said.
Scherber said he feels this will continue to give kids opportunities while increasing coaching levels so there are better ratios of students to coaches.
“We want to keep these fees as low as we can and still pay for the extra coaches,” Scherber said.