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FHS school board may lend more financial support to teams

Several years ago, when the Frazee-Vergas School District was struggling to keep its head above water, the district turned to booster clubs to help support sports.

Now that the district is in better financial standing, the board is looking at reinstating more support to the sports teams.

Activities Director Dave Trautman brought a proposal for discussion to the board meeting Monday, suggesting three options for the school to support sports again. The board discussed the matter and plans to vote on it at the May regular meeting.

Paying for cross country, gymnastics, golf

Trautman recommended the district pick up the costs for cross country, gymnastics and golf programs, similar to the other athletic programs in Frazee.

The district pays for a head coach, and the booster clubs for each activity are responsible for any other expenses. That includes other coaches, entry fees, judges, event workers, supplies and transportation.

Cost for funding the three sports would be about $7,300.

Trautman said a prime example is cross country. He said it’s “extremely difficult” to fill the coaching position since Jason Sannes-Venhuizen resigned as coach because the coach would have to fundraise for the entire program.

He said that Sannes-Venhuizen was even responsible for paying for transportation for the cross country team to competitions.

“It was out of pocket for him,” Trautman said.

Breakdown for funding for the sports would be girls’ golf, $1,090; boys’ golf, $1,863; girls’ cross country, $1,556; boys’ cross country, $1,556; gymnastics, $1,242. These numbers are based on last year’s expenses.

Coaching costs

The second portion of the proposal included how much it would cost to fund the coaching positions for all sports.

The total cost would be about $8,000.

The booster clubs for each sport paid a total of $27,808 in coaching costs for the most recent season of each sport. Then with the credit recovery amount given back to booster clubs from the $40 activity fee charged to each participating student, the clubs received $19,870 from the district.

Trautman said the credit recovery plan worked better for some sports than it did for others because of the amount of participants in the activity.

For example, the wrestling booster club paid $1,630 in extra coaching costs, and they received $1,630 back in credit, making it a wash for the booster club.

“The credit plan worked for them,” he said.

Football though is a good example of one it didn’t help as much. The booster club spent over $7,000 in coaching but only received $3,320 back from the district under the credit plan.

Trautman said that the district would need to come up with a plan though to determine how many coaches each sport would be allowed to be funded through the district.

If the boosters wanted to fund above and beyond that they could, but they wouldn’t be reimbursed from the district then.

Trautman added that he would obviously want any volunteer coaches to be able to stay as well.

Uniform budget

Lastly, it’s time to have a budget for uniforms, he said. The last time the district replaced uniforms was in 2007 for the track team, otherwise, it’s been the booster clubs taking care of those as well.

Trautman suggested a budget of $10,000 a year for uniforms, and then the sports team being on a four-year rotating schedule for when they will receive new uniforms.

He added that some may require them more frequently, and some not as frequently, but then the booster clubs could fill in the gap for those needing them more frequently.

This would be a budget for varsity uniforms because the junior varsity gets the hand-me-downs.

Voting next month

Superintendent Chuck Cheney said that the first two options regarding the coaches are a higher priority.

“There has been reduction, reduction, reduction for years,” board member Steve Jepson said, and the activities got cut. Now the district should return the support to the activities, he added.

“I’m amazed, the amount of pressure we put on them and shifted the burden to (the booster clubs) and they did it,” Trautman said.

Cheney added that with the district returning the funding, it would take some pressure off the business community that is constantly being asked for donations.

The board will discuss the matter more in May at the regular meeting and make a decision on which options to approve, if any.

Follow Pippi Mayfield on Twitter at @PippiMayfield.