The Weld Re-8 Board of Education pointed its budget pencil toward the Fort Lupton High School athletics – specifically, the football program – during a May 12 workshop, Re-8 Superintendent Alan Kaylor confirmed May 13.
Within the frame of a general budget discussion, the area of specific interest was the Bluedevils' football program. The school board was in a workshop format, so there was no decision. The issue could come back to the board at its May 26 regular meeting, as part of a general budget discussion.
"It was brought up as the board talked about the budget," said Re-8 Superintendent Alan Kaylor. "There was a conversation about eliminating the football program. It was a preliminary conversation, but it absolutely was brought up."
Board President Susan Browne brought up the cost of running the program – $39,000, the most of any sports team at the school – plus the team's recent performance. FLHS has had two break-even seasons in the last 16 years and two appearances in the state playoffs. The last one was in 2013.
Kaylor said the football team's budget is about the same as a teacher's salary. But he also said there was no discussion about where that money might wind up should the football team be disbanded.
"They didn't go into a lot of depth," Kaylor said. "They just talked about the cost."
Most of the football team's budget – almost $21,500 – goes to extra salary for administrators and contributions to their retirement funds, $3,000 for equipment and $3,500 for transportation and field trips.
The boys' basketball team has the second-highest budget – almost $30,000. Of that, $16,900 goes to extra-duty salary and benefits. Another $5,600 goes toward paying officials and transportation.
The top two funded girls' sports are the volleyball team and the girls' basketball team. The volleyball budget is $23,000, $13,800 of which goes to extra-duty salary and benefits. Another $5,800 goes for officials and transportation.
The girls' basketball budget is almost $25,000. More than $11,000 goes to extra-duty salary and retirement benefits, and another $10,500 goes to officials and transportation.
By contrast, the high-school mucic program budget is just shy of $88,000. Almost $12,000 is for extra-duty salary for certified and classified employees. The department's supply budget is $2,000, and the transportation/field trips piece is $1,000.
"Treasurer (Michelle) Bettger and I requested cost breakdown and participation for all sports programs," board member Cody LeBlanc said. "We requested the discussion to be held at a later date."
"They need to be cutting the pay in the administration office," said Mildred Mascarenas on Facebook. "They are all way overpaid."
"Fort Lupton is literally building 5,000 new homes. What the %^&* arre they thinking?" asked Kay CdeBaca, also on Facebook. "Why don't get try to get more funds to pay teachers and coaches more? We're on the verge of becoming a (class) 4A school.. And what about all the extra funding they got and (are) probably still getting during COVID? Mosts schools get four times the amount sent to them in a regular school year."
"When does anyone start looking at the administration and asking questions?" asked Cass See on Faceebook. "You're telling me we can't afford a freaking football team. No, we are over paying under performers."
Fort Lupton's last football coach, Joey O'Connor, left the job to become the new head coach at Horizon High School. The job is on the Weld Re-8 School District job board with a start date of June 1 which, if things stay on schedule, is about a week after the district has to adopt a budget for the 2022-2023 school year.