Budget Cuts Hamstring Sports

High School Athletics Face Equipment Loss

November 06, 1991|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,Staff writer

The high school athletic program will not escape the ax that recently cut $4 million from the school budget.

The eight high schools will each immediately lose about $1,200 from their athletic equipment budgets. This will influence next fall's programs, since replacement equipment for fall sports is now being ordered.

Saturday sports practices also are in jeopardy starting Jan. 1, because the budget for overtime for custodial workers is exhausted. Custodians are now required to open school buildings for Saturday sports practices and are paid overtime to do so.

Don Disney, executive supervisor of health and physical education, made these announcementsduring an emergency meeting of high school athletic directors Monday.

Disney also announced that paid timers for basketball games willno longer be used. "We will train volunteer timers for each school,"he said.

And the days of two umpires at junior varsity baseball and softball games are over. Those teams will have to get by with one umpire.

Disney and the athletic directors discussed at Monday's meeting other means of future savings, including restricting travel to a 25-mile radius and cutting the junior varsity sports program.

Ifthe 25-mile restriction becomes reality, games with Harford County teams would be eliminated. Harford teams account for 50 percent of thecounty's non-league games.

"This is strictly in the discussion stage for now, but we are considering dropping Harford County teams fornext fall," Disney said.

Disney will await direction from School Superintendent Michael E. Hickey before restricting travel.

Hickeywill also decide whether coaches will be allowed to open school buildings for Saturday practice or whether teams will be allowed to arrange practices at other sites.

Hickey was out of town Tuesday and not available for comment.

"I'm hoping to have his decisions on these two matters before Thanksgiving," Disney said. "We need to give other counties scheduling notice, and I'd like to let our winter coachesknow about Saturday practice."

Winter sports practices begin Nov.15.

The equipment budget, which already took a $55,000 cut in thefiscal 1991 budget when that amount was transferred to pay for band uniforms, will lose 10 percent of its current $126,450 total. In the fiscal 1990 budget, $172,810 was set aside for equipment.

Mike Williams, athletic director at Glenelg High, said each school is now down to $12,700 per year for equipment replacement.

"At one point, wehad $20,000 per year. Then it was cut to $17,000, then to $14,200, and now this," Williams said. "A 10 percent cut is not a major obstacle, and we in athletics recognize that economic times are tough, budgets are lean and everyone has to pay part of the price."

"You can'tcompromise on safety items, so uniforms usually are what get used a little longer," he said.

Williams said the athletic directors are concerned by the many rumors they've been hearing about possible future budget cuts.

"The worst scenario is that some board members want athletics cut entirely or in a big way, and I'd hate to see students lose the opportunity to enrich their educational life. Athletics contribute a lot to total education."

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