Sunday, July 29, 2012

Support a ban on penalty shots

We don't mean the normal penalty shots occurring as part of a hockey game.
We're talking about the penalty shot leveled at the hockey program.

This past June we learned that Athletics Director Jim McClowry's operational budget was increasing by $32,679.
He had a plan to recoup that increased cost by changing the fee structure.
Instead of all sport fees being $50 (hockey assessed $200), he proposed a 4 tier structure with participation fees of $65, $75, and $85.  The 4th tier was reserved for hockey at a whopping fee of $550 (275% increase).

The $550 plan
Now mind you, if we look at all sport participants, that number is 1,043.
Of that 1,043 kids, only 30 play hockey (21 boys, 9 girls).
The total sum of the increased fees was $33,052.
Of that figure, at $550,  per kid, hockey was covering 32% of the operations budget increase.
That's right...2.9% of the kids (parents) were penalized into covering 32% of the operational budget increase.  We didn't hear anything about hockey costs actually being 32% of the budget increase...just that McClowry was levying a penalty shot to the hockey program.  Way to kill a sport, Jimbo!

Regrouping: The $375 plan
We suspect the district (and McClowry) received a helluva backlash, so on July 23rd, we heard that the district quietly had dropped the hockey fees from $550 to $375.  A nice gesture, but still a 188% increase.  Yes sports like football, baseball, basketball and soccer, are seeing a 170% increase, but the difference here is that those kids are seeing a DOLLAR INCREASE of only $35, vs. the $175 clam smacker laid on hockey parents.  Strike ONE!

Under this revised scenario, hockey kids (that 2.9% of all athletes) are still paying for about 16% of the total athletics budget cost increase.  Strike TWO!

Strike're OUT!
Here's the biggest secret the district and McClowry don't want you to know.  The numbers are out there, but they fervently hope that YOU don't put two and two together.

McClowry likes to highlight the cost of ice time....$22,200 according to his own budget numbers as the rationale for firing a penalty shot at hockey kids.  He likes to emphasize that no one else benefits from the ice time charges.

We have a response to that.  Do you know how much it costs annually to maintain and prepare the district's MANY fields?  They can't even tell you!  But what we DO know is data on what it takes to maintain just ONE field...Ashley field....used by ...what?  Football 5-6 games a year, a little for baseball?  Some Sound of Sun Prairie?  A couple of lacrosse games a year?

If we wanted to cherry pick, like Mr. McClowry, we'd use the figure David Stackhouse tossed out--and it held for many years-- $60,000 per year!!!!  That would mean that the cost of maintaining Ashley field is nearly triple the cost of ice time for hockey.  Now...we'd rather bring you real, unfiltered data instead of cherry picking.  Two years back the district determined that the ACTUAL cost to maintain JUST Ashley field, is about $16,000 per year.  (Of course that figure hasn't been widely publicized because Stackhouse's intent behind the $60,000/yr figure was a 10-yr savings of $600K...which he felt the district should contribute to turf for Ashley.  At only $15K/yr, the district "contribution: shrinks to only $150K.)

...and field maintenance is covered out of the general fund...NOT the Athletics operations budget. why is ice time not covered b y the general fund?
...or greens fees?

The cost of maintaining Ashley field ALONE amounts to about 72% of the cost of ice time.
So why are we essentially charging hockey kids for the cost of their "field" when we don't charge other kids for their sport "fields"?

What is the solution?
The school board needs to take the cost of ice time (hockey) and greens fees (golf) out of the athletics operations budget.  The cost of fields and field maintenance is not covered there.  For hockey and golf, those ARE their "fields".

The school district paid about $1.4M for an incredible gymnasium that serves most sports...bit not hockey or golf.  $8.8M was spent on "site work", including the development of Summit fields, the new track, and all those other beautiful fields.  Hockey and golf got zip.  Even the arts program got over $500K for a fly loft.  We built a greenhouse, and added $75,000 towards a concert grand piano.  Hockey and golf?  Nothing.

It's time to make the athletics program equitable.  We need to cover ice time and greens fees under the general fund.
We also need to re-set the hockey fees back to the 3-tier system.  Put it on the highest rung...but charge no more than for any other sport for which the district cannot even begin to tell you the "operational cost" of their fields.  We know Ashley field costs alone are just a bit less than ice time for hockey.

Re-set hockey fees at $85.
Transfer excess athletic program fee revenue to the general fund.
The net "cost" to the district is $8,327.
In a $73M budget, that is peanuts...about 1/100 of a % (0.01%)