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BC athletics won't see cuts

Administrators cite value of program vs. amount of savings

The Bethlehem Central School District will be keeping its athletics budget flat in the coming year.

The school board at a Wednesday, March 16, budget workshop tentatively approved keeping athletics at about $507,000 in the 2011-12 budget, though some members said that could be revisited should the district fall short of closing a $4 million budget gap.

Another $120,000 would be scheduled for athletics transportation. Co-curricular activities (clubs, theater groups, etc.) would also not have their funding cut.

Cuts to these programs were controversial in last year's budget process, when a proposal to cut the indoor track program and several clubs brought a steady stream of protestors to board meetings.

Administrators said the value of sports and clubs outweigh the costs associated with eliminating them, especially given that these programs as a whole constitute just under 1 percent of the total district budget.

Booster clubs and parents already take a great deal of the cost burden off of the district, said Superintendent Michael Tebbano at the budget meeting.

It became quite apparent to me there's an awful lot of fundraising that goes on in all these groups, he said. "I would just as soon we look at other things."

School board President James Dering said after cuts in previous years to coaching stipends, equipment funds and transportation budgets, the only thing left to do is to cut actual teams. For the money that's saved, he said, it's not a good tradeoff to the school experience.

"If you're going to cut a team there's really minimal costs...so with athletics it's a question of whether you have a team or you don't have a team," he said.

The school board on Wednesday also reviewed the budget for special education, and tentatively approved $430,000 in budget reductions. (One position would be expanded at a cost of $40,000, effectively making the department's cut $390,000).

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