Columbia Public Schools athletics department gets $17,000 budget cut

Wednesday, July 15, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — John Burns hopes an upcoming golf tournament raises enough money for his team to get new basketball uniforms this year.

The Hickman boys basketball head coach needs $6,100 from the Aug. 29 fundraiser to replace the team's 4-year-old uniforms.


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"The uniform money is like a capital outlay and does not come from a team's budget for the school year," said Burns, a new coach this year.

Burns is among the coaches in the Columbia Public School District who have had to find other means of income for their teams because of the past two years of cuts by the School Board.

When the School Board approved the 2009-10 district budget in June, it cut $17,000 from the athletics department's budget.

As a result, Hickman and Rock Bridge high schools each lost $5,500, Jefferson, Oakland and West junior high schools lost $1,500 each and Gentry, Lange and Smithton middle schools lost $500 each, said Columbia Public Schools Athletic Director Bruce Whitesides.

For the coming year, each high school will receive $121,500, each junior high will receive $15,900 and each middle school will receive $3,679  for transportation, supplies, and referee and umpire fees.

Last year, the athletics department received a $51,000 budget reduction. With this second year of cuts, Jennifer Mast, athletic director of Rock Bridge High School, said the department is "getting down to the bare bones."

"Even though this year's cut is not as large, there's less cushion to help deal with it," she said.

The biggest concern with the budget reductions lies with transportation. Because of a lack of local competition, a majority of the athletics budget is spent to send athletes across the state.

The athletics department has renewed its district transportation contract, Whitesides said.

"I hope the price of gas stays the same," he said.

To cover the additional funding needed for local teams, Columbia Public Schools' sports rely heavily on booster clubs and parental support.

Kate Harry, former president of the Rock Bridge booster club, said the group bought equipment and supplies for 16 teams this past year.

Rock Bridge booster club member Heidi Miles helps organize the "For the Love of the Game" fundraiser, a dinner auctioning night entering its seventh year this November.

"What keeps me involved year after year is that you're touching the lives of so many kids," she said. "I mean, some kids are motivated regardless, but if we can maintain the reason they stay involved, let's do it."

Mark Dressler, a sports representative for boys basketball and former president of the Rock Bridge booster club, thinks the club can handle the cut to the athletics department's budget.

"I think the economy will have a larger impact on the fundraising, but we have a very supportive school community that helps us when there is a need," Dressler said.

Mast said Rock Bridge's athletics will try to distribute this year's budget reductions as fairly as possible.

Hickman High School Athletic Director Doug Mirts said he plans to uphold the same standards as previous years for the school's 18 athletic programs, but he expects there to be some "tightening."

"It'll take a little extra work and some parent efforts, but we're going to maintain everything," he said.

The athletics department's budget, including coaches' salaries, is less than 1 percent of the School District's budget or just under $1 million, Whitesides said.

With plans for a new high school in the future, Whitesides said they will have to reorganize funds if budget reductions continue.

"We'll have to cross that bridge when we get there," he said.

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Jason Entermyer July 15, 2009 | 1:19 p.m.

"Mark Dressler, a sports representative for boys basketball and former president of the Rock Bridge booster club, thinks the club can handle the cut to the athletics department's budget."
Well, if any booster club can supplement a team it will be them. Again, this shows what a terrible job the district did when determining the attendance borders for our schools. I hope this mistake is corrected when the new high school is built. However, knowing that many of those on the re-alignment committee live in the RBHS district, I am not expecting any changes.

(Report Comment)
D M July 15, 2009 | 9:13 p.m.

Why is the district making it harder on themselves than it has too? There is a solution to their budget problems but apparently no one from the board is pursuing it. There's one company in the US that specializes in helping school districts/athletic associations in the area of athletics with cutting costs and saving money while generating additional revenue to help Interscholastic Athletics remain sustainable. The company is called Brand Innovations ( and I know they can fix this problem if someone would contact them. Please get some experts to help.

(Report Comment)
Ron Fauss July 16, 2009 | 4:30 p.m.

D M -- Nice post, troll ... if you want to place an ad, just contact the paper or contact the district directly ...

(Report Comment)
D M July 17, 2009 | 6:00 a.m.

Mr. Fauss,
It is not an ad, I am a former coach and have heard of these guys before. I met one of them at a conference, they seem legit and the guy who runs the company is highly respected. I thought this was a place to share ideas and/or comments. Especially when we sit up here and talk about the problem and not the solution for the future. If Brand Innovations can help..then why not? Mr. Fauss I challenge you provide a solution since you don't like my so called (!

(Report Comment)

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