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ABOE finalizes budget, talks athletic costs

Posted: Friday, Jun 21st, 2013

Courier staff writer

ALAMOSA — Keeping in line with a conservative tradition, the Alamosa Board of Education (ABOE) approved the 2013-2014 school year district budget that offers little more than last year.

Alamosa is assumed to see an additional 1.5 students this coming year with an increase of $327,328 for a total state share of $13,724, 851, according to the Colorado Department of Education and based on the presumed total student head count. The district, however, has revised the projection, predicating 72 fewer students will enroll this year, budgeting an actual state share of $13,573,905.

“We approach it from a conservative matter, taking in account student enrollment,” said Alamosa School District Superintendent Rob Alejo on Monday night during the ABOE’s regular board meeting. “We can only hope for an increase.”

The 2013-2014 school year district budget will pay out $8,473,927 in salaries, $2,252,712 in employee benefits and will not provide teacher raises, which was brought into question during the ABOE’s work session on Tuesday night.

The ABOE and the Alamosa Education Association (AEA) master agreement negotiations team recognized district coaches like Alamosa High School’s 2013 CHSCA 3A Coach of the Year Gary Ramsetter are some of the lowest paid in the state, sometimes not making much more than middle school coach athletics staff. After crunching numbers, negotiation team members that the district’s football coaches make about $.30 an hour when all the off-season hours are considered.

Ortega Middle School (OMS) athletic director and AEA vice president Jose Ortega said the topic comes up annually, but without teacher raises, it is not the right time since the two are connected.

About 15 years ago, the district decided to link coaches’ salaries to the teachers’ pay scale instead of paying a flat number, explained AHS Principal Glen Hodges. This created an experience scale CHASA partially dictates through determining a season’s duration, which effects how much a coach earns.

“It is an equity issues,” Hodges said. “It is football versus wrestling versus golf. It is weeks versus days.”

Since the state hit the education budget hard four years ago, the AHS athletic department has not seen an increase, but cuts and rising costs. The district’s Pupil Activity Fund for the 2013-2014 school year offers $298,164 in salaries, $61,961 in employee benefits and total operational package worth $579,860. Football has the largest budget, $14,700, with track and field coming in second at $10,000.

“I want to see the coaches salaries go up,” Hodges said. “I don’t want to move away from that because it has worked so well for 15 years. It’s our teachers' salaries that haven’t been able to keep up.”

ABOE Official Erica Romero added, “It’s hard to recruit coaches because of the salary.”

One notable rising cost for Alamosa athletics is transportation. Over the last few seasons, AHS alone has paid upwards of $50,000 more to get athletes where they need to go.

“That takes money away,” Hodges said. “It takes away from buying things like equipment.”

With the news athletic complex on the way, Alamosa athletics could see a drop in transportation fees, but not until the end of September of the beginning of October. Hodges said the first two home games of the season are shaping up to go down at Adams State University (ASU), which might include homecoming. The fall celebration has been rescheduled to now take place on October 12, and will coincide with the Grizzlies’ homecoming plans. The event details have yet to be confirmed.

In addition, street closures will be in effect around the AHS while construction continues throughout the summer, he said.

The $65,000 vo ag greenhouse that was stripped from the plans earlier this spring because of budget constraints has been brought back to the project, Hodges added, and the scoreboard structure is in place.

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