FORT LUPTON, Colorado (CBS4) — As the Weld RE-8 school district cuts its budget for the 2022-2023 school year, some fear the district will eliminate athletics from some schools, most notably the Fort Lupton High School football team.
In a brainstorming school board meeting, a member suggested eliminating the high school’s football team to save money, the district confirms. However, Superintendent Alan Kaylor said this was just one of many different ideas brought up during the meeting and nothing has been confirmed or officially curtailed.
“It really upsets me. I understand it costs money,” said Sherry Derbigny, the mother of a football player at the school. “[The board isn’t thinking]about what it’s going to do to the kids if they cut the program.”
Derbigny said she told her son football was in jeopardy for his senior season and asked him if he wanted to change schools if the program was cut.
“He really wants to play. It’s important to him,” Derbigny told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas. “It was important to me because my son plays football and he really enjoys it.”
According to a school board member, the district is running a multimillion-dollar deficit, which underscores why they wanted to make some cuts. However, Kaylor found that the football budget was a small drop in the bucket compared to the $42 million operating budget the district oversees.
“In Weld-8, the cost of football, just for expenses, is $39,000 a year,” Kaylor said.
The district said a large portion of that $39,000 will go toward paying coaches and staff. A small portion, just a few thousand dollars, actually goes into travel and gear.
Kaylor said he personally didn’t think football would be eliminated when the board finally dealt with the budget later this month. Kaylor said he felt the idea was nothing more than a simple suggestion among many others.
“It was a brainstorming session that was discarded mid-session. I think that’s the scale,” Kaylor said.
Kaylor said the district has discussed potential cuts to middle school athletics over the years. He said one factor that prompted the board to abolish football was the team’s lack of success over the past two decades. However, both Derbigny and Kaylor both noted the benefits of high school athletics beyond the final scores of the Games.
“If you look back 16 or 17 years, they haven’t won many games,” Kaylor said. “But athletics is about more than winning or losing, it’s about the lessons these athletes learn on the field.”
“For some kids, this can be something that keeps them out of trouble or improves their grades,” Derbigny said.
Kaylor, a former soccer coach and player himself, said the district will likely find other places to make ends meet.
“Our dollars are always tight,” Kaylor said. “But ultimately, I think we’ve done a very good job raising our kids, which is the most important thing we’re doing at Weld-8.”