The Weld RE-8 School Board heard pleas from parents to keep the Fort Lupton High School football program during the board's May 26 meeting.
The ideas ranged from examining other salaries in the district, namely Superintendent Alan Kaylor’s, to a reclassification for the next two-year cycle, which will begin in 2024.
The school board brought up the idea of cutting the sport earlier this month in a workshop session. The estimated cost savings was $39,000. The district has an extra $1.9 million for next year’s budget, but some of that has to go to infrastructure needs and increases in teachers’ salaries, among other things.
Kaylor told the board it budgeted $321,000 for high-school sports programs and spent $305,000 as of May 26. Jessica Holbrook, the district’s director of finance and business services, presented a draft budget to the board May 26. It included no plans to disband the football program.
“To cut the football program, or any other program, due to budget cuts is absurd,” Michelle Galicia told the school board. “We are supposed to be here for the students. Now, let’s show them we are.”
She said cutting the football program will have a trickle-down effect on other sports programs, the school’s marching band and student council, as examples.
“You still have to pay to upkeep the stadium,” she said. “If the program is cut, you start losing current and future students. In turn, that means loss of funding.”
Citing state department of education figures, Cassie Rodriguez told the board it was time to start asking questions of the people making these decisions.
“In 2019, the superintendent was making 10% more than the average salary of superintendents in Colorado, whereas our average teachers' salaries were 6 percent below the average," she said. “The 21-22 budget allotted for close to a 15 percent increae for the superintendent's salary, and the scheduled salary increases for teachers ia about 6 percent."
In 2021, the superintendent was making 15% more than average. Teachers were still making 6% (below average.)”
Galicia told the board a football program isn’t about wins and losses. She cited the examples of several students who have gone on to college with football scholarships. Galicia also suggested that the district start hiring people “who are vested in the town” and “who aren’t here to use it as a stepping stone.”
“We need an urgent plea to CHSAA to ask them to drop us to 1A so we can rebuild," Galicia said. "The current two-year league placement has already been implemented. Right now, we don’t have an AD to fight for this (present athletic director Cora Lanter will move on to a similar job at Severance High School), so we need to do it.”
The school board has to adopt a budget by the end of next month.
“We want answers,” Rodriguez said. “We want decisions that place the interests of the students first.”