Even with pay-to-play fees and ticket sales, Payson High School’s athletic department needs donations and a subsidy from the general fund to break even.
Newly appointed athletic director Don Heizer said the district should look at other sources of revenue to help make up for the nearly $90,000 shortfall.
Heizer suggested the board investigate holding more tournaments, online sales of merchandise and community-wide fund-raising to lessen the burden on the district’s wavering finances.
But for this year, money out of the district’s maintenance and operations (M&O) budget and Credit for Kids (CFK) funds will have to make up the difference.
In his first official report to the board, Heizer admitted he had only just gotten his feet wet as athletic director, but was excited for the opportunity to bolster sports participation and finances.
“It is highly unlikely that the athletic department will ever have the ability to be entirely, independently self-funding,” he said. “We are going to work long and hard to attempt to move as far in that direction as possible.”
Already, 25 percent of the student body is partaking in fall sports. He said this is slightly up from last year, but didn’t give any concrete numbers.
Heizer said he hopes to grow each sport by 20 percent next year, which could bring in additional revenue.
For the 2012 school year, Heizer estimates fees will bring in close to $80,000. However, that barely covers the coaches’ salaries.
Factor in officials, event workers, tournaments, dues, travel, equipment, rule books and supplies and the department comes up short $88,000.
The district makes up the difference, relying in part on crucial CFK tax donations and fund-raising efforts by coaches and players.
However, Heizer admits coaches are having to take more time away from practice to “tend to the ever-increasing financial burden as the gap widens.”
Already the district has seen a loss in mentors and coaches because of the these financial difficulties, he said.
Last year, the community gave $20,000 through CFK explicitly to support the athletic department. All told, residents donate more than $200,000 through Credit for Kids, which supports almost all the district’s extracurricular programs.
Extracurricular programs rely heavily on fees and donations for funding as the district tightens its budget under the pressure of legislative cuts. The Legislature has cut an estimated $2 billion from education in the past three years.
In a lengthy presentation Monday, Heizer argued that extracurricular activities are as important to student development as academic courses.
“During difficult financial times, discussion often turns to where to make reductions of financial support,” he said.
Heizer cited studies that show students involved in activities learn how to set and meet goals, manage their time and work on a team.
“Life’s most important lessons and habits can be learned through participation in extra/co-curricular activities,” he said.
Heizer said he has seen the benefits of extracurricular activities firsthand.
Heizer joined the district in the late 1980s as the suspension supervisor. He later taught American history before transferring to the counseling department where he helped craft schedules.
During his tenure, Heizer served as an assistant football and wrestling coach under several head coaches.
In his new post, Heizer serves as athletic director as well as the school’s activities director, earning a $75,000 salary.