Facing a Deficit

June 28, 2018

Andover (Mass.) High School's athletic department is facing a deficit of $60,000. Its main solution focuses on participation fees.

According to The Eagle-Tribune, Philip Conrad and Bill Martin, Principal and Athletic Director, respectively, shared ideas for reducing the deficit at a School Committee meeting. These include raising the $380 annual fee to $450, switching to a $275 fee, or having a three-tiered rate structure with gradually decreasing fees.

Sheldon Berman, Superintendent, said that while the current fees were enough to generate a reserve fund back in the 2012-13 academic year, they are no longer enough to cover the costs, such as coaches getting their first raise in years.

"Over time, costs continued to escalate," Berman said. "The $380 fee has paid for less and less. It meant at some point we were going to use up that reserve and we did in the 2016-17 school year. We became aware of the deficit late last year."

Andover High's athletics are funded by a 50-50 split, with the general fund paying for half of expenses, and revenue from tickets, gate fees, renting facilities and other sports fees, covering the other half. Shannon Scully, Committee Chair, said she wanted the School Department budget to cover more of the expenses.

“I don’t think anybody likes this 50-50 split,” Scully said. “I agree wholeheartedly that we need to focus on finding a way for our operating budget to pick up more of these expenses.”

Paul Murphy, a committee member, said that the department had to think carefully about how much they could ask.

“I think we are at a place where we need to think deeply about how much we are going to ask the athletic director and principal to make up a gap,” Murphy said. “Sticker shock for a lot of families is huge. My bottom line is I would like to see more models before making any kind of decision.”

Conrad said he hoped for a more permanent solution.

"If history serves, we should be back here in five to six years running another deficit in the athletic budget," he said.

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