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High Fees, Low Funding, Make Athletics Expensive

Superintendent of Schools Anthony Bent told the School Committee he will not recommend an increase in athletic user fees for this year. Bent did say, however, he would consider the issue again next year. Currently, Groton-Dunstable charges student athletes $300 to participate in a sport with a cap of $1,000 per family. High School principal Mike Mastrullo who presented an analysis of the cost of the athletic program at Groton-Dunstable said he would recommend an increase in user fees next year.

The report on athletic program costs came following a move by the school committee to increase user fees for students participating in the skiing program. That consideration was made last fall and the School Committee reversed their vote following an outcry from parents who said further increases in the user fees would prohibit students from participating. The School Committee then asked the administration to prepare an analysis of what athletics cost in the district. Another contributing factor behind the report was an ongoing deficit situation in the athletic budget to which the School Committee had to transfer funds from their reserve fund to close the deficit.

Mastrullo highlighted the report and noted that there are 762 student who prticipate in athletics at the high school and 238 students at the middle school. Mastrullo noted that the cost of running athletics totals $537,363 and provides uniforms, official fees, coaches salaries, league fees and other services. Revenues from athletic programs total $471,000 and the bulk of those revenues - $214,000 - comes from user fees. The school district budget provides $199,611 to fund the athletic program. It leaves an annual deficit of approximately $67,000.

Mastrullo noted that in the fiscal 2014 school budget approved at this year's annual town meeting, the athletic budget was increased $77,000 and he expects no deficit to exist in fiscal 2014 which covers the school 2013-14. The report noted that while athletic user fees at Groton-Dunstable are high, the budget conribution to athletics is the lowest among area schools. North Middlesex funds athletics at $397,000 out of a $43 million budget while Nashoba Regional (Bolton, Stow) funds athletics at $402,000 on a $46 million budgt. Groton-Dunstable funds athletics at $199,000 on a $34 million budget. On a prcentage basis, Groton-Dunstable contributes the least of those schools.

The School Committee agreed with the Suprinendent's recommendation and will consider the issue again next year.

Groton Herald

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