Viking Saga: Could you explain what the sports budget is?
Steve Hargis: “There are a lot of different pieces and parts to the sports budget. Most of the money for sports is provided through the Board of Education(BOE) and then we have money from activity accounts that teams are able to use to provide for their athletes or to help fund things for their athletes that are not normally the responsibility of the BOE. For example, wristbands or warm up shirts are items paid for by the individuals or parents because they are not covered in the budget.”
V.S.: What is the sports budget’s priority?
S.H.: “They fund the things that you need to actually conduct the sport. We need to have transportation to get to and from the competitions. We need to have officials, we need to have our fields, and we need to have coaches. We would never go up to a parent and ask things like, ‘Hey could you fund these three buses to Stonington next week?’ It’s our job to figure those things out. When you walk out onto a field and you start to play a game, you start to notice that someone paid for all those things that are around us and that’s the BOE. However, even though the budget covers most things, people will always ask for more money for equipment because budgets are getting tighter at home.”
V.S.: Do different sports receive different amounts of funding?
S.H.: “Yes, each sport has different needs so they receive different amounts of funding. For example, track and field – we don’t need a lot. Only a jersey, black shorts, and maybe even cleats. For football, you can’t play without shoulder pads and padded pants. It takes more materials.
It’s not a matter of fairness, it’s a matter of safety. It’s a level of safety and requirements of what your athletes must have to be safe. Because you would not want to make helmets optional.”
V.S.: Have you seen any impact in practice or participation in sports after the budget cut?
S.H.: “I have not seen that. I haven’t had an athlete say to me that if we had better equipment, we would be a better team or anything like that. And besides NFA, we have the biggest participation rate in the ECCs. Once the budget is defined, the Board of Education can spend the remaining money towards anything. It’s very challenging to tell where the money is distributed from there.”