A reduction of nearly 10 percent in the athletics budget for the upcoming school year will force Montgomery County Public Schools to shorten the seasons of all junior varsity teams, and pay football coaches stipends for only one practice during the traditional “two-a-days” during the first week of practice.
The MCPS budget, announced last month, included trims totaling $751,900 in athletics funding for fiscal year 2012 as part of $17.4 million reduction from the Board of Education.
The hardest hit area was in coaching stipends, which will account for 75.5 percent of $7,821,444 spent on athletics in Montgomery middle and high schools in the upcoming year.
“We wanted to minimize a loss that directly affected students,” said Duke Beattie, the director of system-wide athletics for MCPS. “Most people think it’s fortunate that it wasn’t more severe.”
Earlier budget proposals included cuts of as much as $1.08 million from athletics.
By only paying football coaches for one session during the first week of practice, the county said it will save $246,400. Coaches will still be allowed to hold two practices, but will only be paid for one of them.
“It’s a minimal hit,” said Jim Kuhn, the football coach at Whitman. “They tried to spread it around a bit, so nobody would get hurt too bad. If you’re doing this for the money, then you’re in the wrong business.”
Coaches in all sports will not receive a stipend for three practices, which account for $88,200. Like the two-a-days, though, coaches will have the opportunity to hold these practices.
Additionally, the county will shorten the schedules for all junior varsity teams by 20 percent. Teams will play two to four fewer games during the season, and hold three fewer practices. The combined savings from lower coaching stipends and costs for referees and transportation from those eliminated games is estimated to be $172,400.
This will also lower the amount of stipends paid to coaches by an estimated $126,700.
Elaine Knobloc, Richard Montgomery’s junior varsity field hockey and lacrosse coach, said the shortening of the JV schedule could hurt the development of some programs.
“I’m hoping people will see this and say, ‘What?’ ” she said. “A lot of people go to private schools because of sports and this is another strike against us. ”
Among other cuts were the elimination of girls’ golf, a developmental program ($17,500 in stipends), and spring varsity cheerleading ($32,200 in stipends) and junior varsity cheerleading ($33,600 in stipends).
One area that was not impacted was the $30 annual fee ($15, for children whose families have a gross income of less tan $35,000) charged to MCPS students to participate on interscholastic teams. The county decided against raising the fee to $35.