Montgomery Blair High School's Online Student Newspaper
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April 27, 2010

Athletic Department faces financial trouble

by Ava Wallace, Online Editor-in-Chief
The Athletic Department is "running in the red" budget-wise according to department head Dale Miller. The department had an income of $83,000 this year, while its expenditures were approximately $102,000. Miller speculates that the department could possibly owe Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) roughly $30,000 in total by the end of this school year.

Girls' varsity soccer made quick work of Kennedy. Wylie Conlon
Girls' varsity soccer made quick work of Kennedy.
Despite the large amount owed, the debt will only affect student athletes' equipment for the 2010 – 2011 school year. "We'll be another year without new uniforms and things like nets," Miller said. "We're sticking to the basic necessities of the program so we can keep paying for transportation, security and officials." Miller first learned about the department's debt in October 2009, and claims that it stems primarily from low gate receipts as well as less funding from the county due to the new turf field.

Though the school received a grant from the county to install the turf, the athletic department independently spent thousands of dollars furnishing the revived Blazer Stadium. "The new turf field cost a minimum of $20,000. We bought new field hockey goals, new soccer goals, benches and a new score table… we put the money into equipment," Miller said.

But the athletic department also lost $11,500 out of its allocated funds from MCPS because of the field. According to Miller, schools with turf receive less money from the county because theoretically, the schools should no longer have to pay to maintain the field. "They justify giving us less money by saying that the field doesn't need much maintenance," he said.

Another part of the department's debt comes from gate receipts, which are essentially how many tickets are sold at sports functions. The receipts account for roughly one third of the department's income, and according to Miller, gate receipts are down this year. "Football and basketball are the biggest source of gate receipts, so if we don't have much success, we're not going to sell many," he said.

Though Blair's receipts rank 18th out of 26 in the county, overall the department received less funding from MCPS because of Blair's size. "Since we're a bigger school, we get less allocation. The county says that we should be able to generate more gate receipts, as there are more kids who could buy tickets," said Miller. But the county doesn't always accurately take Blair's student demographic into account when determining how much money to allocate, according to Miller. "A lot of our student body is CAP and Magnet kids who live far away and can't get back for a nighttime game. Many of the other students can't get here at night anyways," he said.

Additionally, bills from the past two years for security at sports functions had to be paid this year. That money was taken out of the department's income in 2009, according to Miller, which compound the department's current debt.

In order to remedy the department's financial woes, Miller's department has been spending conscientiously and will continue to do so next year, though Blair's athletic department's expenditures are already far below the county average. "The county average per school expenditure is $160,000 a year. We're spending $60,000 less than that and we're still in the red," Miller said.

In addition to frugality, Miller stresses the need for department fundraising in the form of boosters and concession stands to augment the department's funds. "We're not going to buy anything that we don't need, and hopefully that will get us back on track. Then we can think about fundraising," he said.

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  • PC on April 28, 2010 at 9:52 PM
    Here is what the Richard Montgomery Booster Club said about picking up the tab for expenses related to the artificial turf at their school.
  • Kathy (View Email) on April 29, 2010 at 12:54 AM
    Every time we turn around Blair is getting shafted because of its size. Whose idea was it to make such a large school to begin with? And then to not adequately per capita fund its sports, career center, graduation site etc. There seems to be no attention paid to the school's demographics for any of these important items that richer and smaller schools have less problem with.
  • Jerry (View Email) on April 29, 2010 at 1:11 AM
    So - who is paying for the $9000 basic maintenance contract on the 1.2 million dollar plastic turf field that Joe Lavorgna, who has lead the push for Artificial turf for MCPS, has said is needed? Who has paid for the specialized equipment needed to maintain the field? Is the equipment at the field? The field will become unsafe very quickly if it is not maintained (groomed weekly to prevent plastic turf "potholes", supplemented with more crumb rubber since much leaves the fields with each athlete , and cleaned since it can't break down contaminants like grass can). In addition the warranty is voided if the field is not groomed and maintained as outlined in the maintenance schedule. And the Blair field is heavily used. It has been shown all over the country that the more heavily used a plastic Field Turf field is the more maintenance it needs and the earlier it fails as early as 5 years in some places at a cost to replace of half a million dollars or more even while still under warranty. See for more information on maintenance needed and replacement.
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