Budget committee holds line on money for HS swimming

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By HERB SWETT
For the Keizertimes

The Salem-Keizer School District’s 2014-15 budget proposal, representing the first projected revenue gain in five years, received budget committee recommendation Tuesday.

The budget committee met Monday and Tuesday for comments from the audience before recommending the $616,356,557 proposal, which the School Board is expected to adopt June 10.

Receiving the most attention in the budget discussions were the swimming program and the career technical education proposal.

Four people spoke from the floor Monday, all on the status of swimming. All wanted financial support for the sport restored to the budget. The argument was that the reasons for unfunding swimming were gone, because the fees swimmers paid were enough to support the sport.

Michael Wolfe, chief operating officer of the district, said that funding of swimming, which had never been eliminated, had been coming out of the general fund.

“Lately,” he added, “there has been less time and effort put into it.”

Betty Pataccoli, budget committee chair, noted that other sports have been reduced and eliminated at the middle school level. Questions were raised about funding comparisons of swimming and sports for which no one spoke from the audience Monday. Paula Radich, interim superintendent, said more information on sports funding would be ready Tuesday.

The Salem-Keizer Swim Boosters gave Radich a financial projection Tuesday that concluded that restoring swimming to its previous level could be budget-neutral for five years. Radich, noting that the budget proposal was built on the two criteria of classroom and infrastructure, recommended that swimming be left where it is for one year, at which time the district could look at what funding is available.

No budget change was recommended for swimming.

Tuesday, when no one spoke from the audience, the CTE proposal was the main topic. Rick Kimball, a board member of the committee, sought to transfer the $429,000 for the project to the contingency fund. He said that, although he supported the CTE concept, he thought the district should work first at recovering reductions.

Chris Brantley, also a board member, argued that the CTE program would keep students from dropping out. He noted that a large donation expected from Mountain West Corp., which would work with the district to organize CTE, might not be available later if the project were transferred.

Chuck Lee, a board member who is president of Mountain West and was to abstain from voting on the motion for that reason, said there was a possibility of further donations from Mountain West if the project were approved. It will be on the agenda of the board’s June 10 meeting. The committee voted to leave the $429,000 where it is.

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