Monday, January 24, 2011

Should CMS slash sports?

As CMS looks for big-ticket, non-academic items to slash from next year's budget, some of you have asked about the cost and value of sports.

A presentation on that topic is slated for Tuesday night's school board meeting, and there's some interesting advance info posted with the agenda. High-school athletics has a $3.4 million budget covered by county money, while middle-school sports is budgeted for $1.25 million.

The various fees and charges designed to cover the cost of middle-school sports have brought in just over $725,000 so far this year, with another $322,000 coming in from community donations, according to the report (the spring season is still to come). As I understand Superintendent Peter Gorman's plan for 2011-12, middle-school sports would go away, leaving the high-school participation fees and ticket surcharge to help offset the cost of high-school athletics.

Expect to hear more about this proposal Tuesday. The sports report is slated late in what promises to be a long meeting, starting at 6 p.m.; watch live on CMS-TV Cable 3 or online. Gorman and soon-to-retire Athletic Director Vicki Hamilton will flesh that information out at a Wednesday morning news conference.

Cutting middle-school sports is not one of the early-decision items on Tuesday's agenda, so expect board members to continue debating and asking questions into this spring. As always, if you want to give them your views directly, there are contact links with this blog.


Jim Parrish said...

check the research on grades and athletic participation as well as physical education and grades. It is very clear that both athletic participation and physical education improves GPA's. The challenge is to hire certified and motivated teachers with PE degrees and have them both coach and teach. If coaches can demand discipline and excellence on the field or court it should be demanded in the classroom as well.

Anonymous said...

You pretty much have to cut sports don't you? I mean, how can you really cut all of these teachers and cut into the education system while retaining all of the extra curricular activities? I realize this would cause many to give up on school because it's all they have - but honestly, is that a good reason? You have to prioritize during times like this.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely. CMS's mission is education, not sports. I have not seen a single student's academics helped by sports. I have many hundreds fail academically because they ignore schoolwork in favor of sports. For example, the SAT's of UNC-CH's baseketball and football players are many hundreds of points lower than the other students.

Anonymous said...

There are no easy choices. Why people think the last two hours of the day are more important than the previous eight is confusing to me. Assuming the same million dollars comes in, 2.5 million is 60 teachers. Those 60 teachers serve a minimum of 1800 students, and in high school would serve up to 7200.
I agree sports are important, but what happens in the school is simply more important.

Anonymous said...

like it or not, there are a lot of students in CMS that would drop out if there were not athletics. While high schools currently use a pay to play system to fund middle school sports, next year middle sports may need to be cut and the pay to play can fund high school sports. Academics SHOULD always come first, but if you're realistic you will know that it doesn't always for many people. If you cut athletics how will you justify any after school activity that costs the system any money?

Anonymous said...

Hard to justify anything that costs money. We'll have to cut it all. And maybe when there are no sports, or theatre, or chess clubs, then maybe Charlotte-Meck will decide that there needs to be more revenue for schools.

Mac said...

Maybe this is a dumb comment/question - but considering we're in the Internet era... has CMS considered programs that enable students to take courses online and/or at home? Perhaps a hybrid "home school" model that is still a part of the CMS curriculum? I know the challenges are that if students are home, it means there is a chance they are unsupervised - but there have to be some types of controls and/or permissions that could be put in place. Students could maybe go into school once or twice a week, and rotate with other students - requiring fewer teachers for f2f teaching, and more studying online. Think about how much time kids spend on the Internet - they know how to navigate. I'm not saying you go do this - I'm just saying you take this idea and discuss it - find ways to develop it with caution and control.

Anonymous said...

When I watched "Waiting for Superman", I drew two conclusions: i) The schools were focused on academics, not sports, ii) No bussing, period.

wiley coyote said...

Sports should definitely be on the table - middle AND high school.

Approximately 86 teachers could be saved by eliminating sports.

The notion that somehow kids won't come to school if they can't play sports is ridiculous.

There are many factors related to dropping out of school. Lack of sports doesn't even show up on the radar.

Another argument is "kids go on to play college sports". That argument holds no water because nationally, very few high school athletes go on to play college sports.

Here is a link to a chart from the NCAA that shows these statistics:

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has compiled the following chart that estimates the probability of high school athletes competing in college athletics.

This is a breakdown for the 2010-2011 year as given to me by CMS for high school sports.

Cost of Athletic Activity Account (start-up money for safety & equipment)$ 6,373

CMS Coaches $ 87,858

Non-CMS Coaches $ 3,500

Purchases Services $ 46,612
Metrolina Athletic Officials Association
Metrolina Wrestling Association
Police services for athletic contests
MEDIC Ambulance Services for athletic contests
Show Pros athletic contests staffing
Mecklenburg County Park & Recreation (diving)

Football Insurance: $35per school x 100 players (varsity & junior varsity)$ 3,500

Mileage for athletic director quarterly travel $ 1,600

Estimated Cost for One (1) High SchoolTOTAL: $ 149,443

x 20 High Schools TOTAL: $ 2,988,860

The numbers above don't include the cost of heating and air plus lights in gyms and football fields.

And let's not forget one of the main issues people don't want to talk about which is the pay to play scheme cooked up by Gorman.

Many school districts use this ruse to get funds, but the problem is the program is based on fraudulent FRL numbers which allows students who may not qualify for the FRL program to play for free (CMS estimates up to 60% of all students on the program don't qualify).

Some states don't allow school districts to use pay to play schemes.

Unfortunately, North Carolina does.

Some schools in California ask for donations because students cannot be required to pay fees there. A 1984 state Supreme Court ruling deemed student activities to be part of a district's education program. Fees are also banned in South Dakota, where the state attorney general in 1995 cited a state statute that says "privileges of the public schools shall be free."

Anonymous said...

Anon 1/24 8:05 -- I hear what you're saying, but want to clarify a point on some of the other extracurriculars. My kids are arts kids, not sports kids, and as much as I'd hate to see the programs go I agree they should in favor of academics.

That said, at my kids' school the only expense of the chess club was the use of the facility after school (and it's open and lit anyway because personnel are still there). The club is run by parents and/or teachers volunteering their time. The arts programs (band, drama, art, dance) are self-supporting -- I'm sure someone's tried to sell you a CitiPass book or a basket of oranges. CMS pays the teachers' salaries, but that's it. If the band director needs to replace some the more expensive, "unrentable" instruments (such as French Horns, which my Google-Fu tells me cost $2,500-over $3,000), he has to raise the money for them: CMS doesn't pay for them. Sports cost CMS far more than the arts.

Anonymous said...

Sure why not, maybe we can all pull together and end up with a 100% obesity rate in this state.

wiley coyote said...

Sure why not, maybe we can all pull together and end up with a 100% obesity rate in this state.

...Uh, you're kidding, right? Especially since only 55% of kids play a high school sport anyway (National Federation of State High School Associations 2009).

Tell you what. Increase the school day, eliminate sports that affect about half of the students and bring back mandatory PE for every grade.

That way, we've cut the budget and obesity.

Just remember that dodge ball and kick ball are prohibited because little Johnny might get hurt.

Anonymous said...

I have no problem with cutting middle school sports. There are tons of town, recreational, and community leagues for kids at that age.

Anonymous said...

Sure! And eliminate all of the physical education classes. We don't want to interfere with the fattening of America.

Jim Parrish said...

To put it bluntly, sports are about education; and please don't stereotype all athletes. Most student athletes work hard at both their grades and their athletics. They learn about sportsmanship, teamwork, playing with integrity and balancing multiple priorities. Most student-athletes realize they aren't going to college for sports. They participate for pride in their school, the personal challenge and their love for their teammates. Please try to put a price tag on that. Extracurricular activities are the culture of the school. They foster an identity to a community that can last a lifetime.

Anonymous said...

I think that it should come down to a numbers analysis. What percentage of CMS students are "athletes"? I believe that ultimately, the numbers will show that athletic funds benefit anly a small number of students-especially when you consider the students who participate in multiple sports. Can we justify spending that much money to support the athleteic "needs" of such a small number of students?