It was the last and likely the most well-attended listening session the Brainerd School District has hosted this spring concerning the impact of impending budget cuts.
More than 300 parents and students, many wearing their blue-and-white Brainerd Warrior sweatshirts, gathered in the Brainerd High School cafeteria Tuesday night to hear presentations by school administrators and Jim Kramer, a member of Warrior Way Inc., about proposals to cut high school athletics and activities as part of the $5.5 million in budget cuts for next fall.
Proposed athletic/academic reductions listed
Brainerd Superintendent Jerry Walseth announced Tuesday night the 12 sports/activities proposed to be retained next fall if Plan A is adopted by the school board.
Those high school sports proposed by administration to remain next fall include:
Adapted floor hockey
Minnesota State High School League activities proposed to remain next fall include:
BHS sports offerings proposed to be eliminated include:
Boys' and girls' cross country running
Boys' and girls' soccer
Boys' and girls' tennis
Boys' and girls' hockey
Boys' and girls' Alpine skiing
Boys' and girls' Nordic skiing
Boys' and girls' golf
BHS activities proposed to be eliminated include:
Fifth Street Journal
National Honor Society
Two different plans, Plan A and Plan B, were presented and the school board could choose to adopt either one. A School Board Curriculum Committee meeting is planned for 11:30 a.m. April 2 to make a recommendation for board approval and the school board will vote on that recommendation at its regular April 14 meeting.
"November 6 signified a very important date for us all and we had a referendum in front of the community and we as a community spoke about how we wanted to handle that referendum," Superintendent Jerry Walseth said. "Obviously, at the end of that day, we became a different school district."
Walseth said school board members had not seen a list of the athletics and activities proposed by administrators to be cut until Tuesday's meeting.
Activities Director Todd Selk and Community Education Director Todd Lyscio gave the presentation on both proposals.
The district's goal is to reduce expenditures in activities and athletics by $860,000.
The greatest difference between the two models is that Plan A includes eliminating all but 12 of the 29 high school league sports while Plan B retains all 29 sports but relies heavily on Warrior Way Inc., a nonprofit organization created to provide participation fee assistance for students.
Plan A would retain the following BHS sports: Adapted floor hockey, baseball, boys' and girls' basketball, dance, football, softball, boys' and girls' swimming, boys' and girls' track and volleyball. Minnesota State High School League activities that would remain include band, choir, orchestra, one-act play and speech.
Plan A would mean 67 percent of students who participate in sports, based on the 2006-07 participation figures, would still have one or more of their sports available to them next year. In contrast, Plan B would mean 100 percent of current participation.
Plan A would have no middle level sports while Plan B would retain all 17 middle school sports.
Parent Cindy Williams talked in a small group Tuesday night while Brainerd athletes Morgan Salo (left), Michael Ruen and Josh Sachs listened to the proposed cuts in sports and activities during a listening session at the high school. Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls » Purchase reprints of this photo.
Participation fees would jump from $80 now to $290 per sport for Plan A while Plan B would have $190 fees for middle level sports/activities, currently at $50, and $380 fees for high school sports/activities.
Plan A would offer five high school activities while Plan B would offer six activities.
Both plans would rely on student fundraising. For Plan A, $50,000 in fundraising would be required while $100,000 in fundraising would be needed for Plan B. During the last fundraising cycle, $107,000 was raised, said Selk.
Both plans would require the following increases in revenue:
-- Ticket prices would increase.
-- Elimination of season passes.
-- Elimination of senior citizen card.
-- Elimination of employee passes.
-- Establishment of a 10-punch admission card to get a break from full price.
-- Corporate advertising would be actively sought.
-- Game Day promotions would be held.
-- Concession sales would need to increase.
-- The sale of Warrior merchandise would increase with possible assistance from the Brainerd SportsBoosters.
Both plans would involve the creation of activities and athletics advisory groups and additional budget cuts would be required in staffing, travel, supplies and other areas.
Pre-registration would be a must for both plans, with a 25 percent pre-payment required, likely a couple of months before the season started. Participation numbers would drive all program opportunities.
Both plans would need to continue to ensure that gender equity, seasonal balance, a maximization of participation and the budgeted reductions are all met.
Selk said there was a misconception in the community that if the school district is able to offer Plan B, through the help of Warrior Way Inc., that everything will remain the same as it has for years.
"That is not true," said Selk. "With either model there will be significant changes than what we know and lived this year and past years."
Walseth told parents that his hope is that Plan B is implemented by the school board because that means that the community has stepped up and helped fund the activities/athletics program.
Jim Kramer of Warrior Way Inc. provided an update on its fundraising efforts. Kramer said the board asked them for a two-year financial commitment to be in the bank by April 1, which equates to about $220,000. So far Kramer said they've raised about $100,000 in donations and have a considerable amount of pledges.
"We have not met our goal of a two-year commitment," said Kramer. "But we are hopeful that we'll make it but we know over the next two weeks we have a lot of work to get there."
Kramer said they have been calling and e-mailing BHS alumni, asking for financial support.
"We do feel this is the best direction we can go at this time to keep our kids in their activities and athletic endeavors," said Kramer.
Parents and students were split into groups of 20 people and sent to various classrooms to take an informal vote on which plan they preferred. Then they were brought back to the cafeteria and told which 12 sports would be recommended to remain next fall and then sent once again into small groups to give their input on the recommendation.
JODIE TWEED may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5858.
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