Updated March 6, 2 p.m.
On Feb. 28, Riverside-Brookfield High School Athletic Director Art Ostrow recommended that four sports be dropped next year at the school. Ostrow presented a memo outlining his recommendations and rationale at the committee of the whole meeting of the District 208 Board of Education.
Ostrow recommended “suspending” boys and girls water polo, boys volleyball and girls golf. The sports would be cut next year as a money-saving move to help balance next year’s budget.
He also recommended that the pay-to-participate fee charged to students for joining a sports team be doubled next year from $75 to $150. Ostrow recommended charging students $175 to join the football team, citing the higher cost of football. Pay-to-participate was enacted for the first time at the school this school year.
Ostrow also recommended cutting the athletic department supply budget by 30 percent for the second straight year.
The total savings from the cuts and the additional revenue generated by the doubling of the pay-to-participate fee would amount to $122,919, Ostrow estimated.
The administration would like to cut at least around $76,000 from the athletic program for next year as part of overall cost cutting efforts, Superintendent Kevin Skinkis said.
“The only way to get the identified target of reductions would be to either reduce four sports or reduce two sports and increase the pay-to-participate,” Skinkis said.
Skinkis said that he is not specifically endorsing all of Ostrow’s recommendations and would like to present a few packages of cuts and fee increases to the school board.
“This is the first draft for the board,” Skinkis said. “What I want to put together is two or three options for the board to review, and then I can support all three and then let the board make the final decision.”
Ostrow said that 20 students participated in boys water polo, 19 in girls water polo, 41 in boys volleyball and 12 in girls golf. Girls golf is the sport with the fewest number of participants at RB, Ostrow said.
He said that girl golfers could participate on the school’s boys team, adding he hoped to reinstate water polo and boys volleyball as club teams if outside organizations would sponsor them.
The school board is expected to consider Ostrow’s recommendations in April.
Last year the RBHS administration planned to cut boys and girls water polo, but the school board voted last summer to bring the teams back after a number of parents made a vocal effort to save them.
The choice of which sports to cut was based on a number of factors, including participation rates, the length of time a sport has been offered at the school and the need to maintain compliance with the federal Title IX law requiring equal access to sports for boys and girls.
Currently, RBHS offers 26 sports. Ostrow said that only 10 of 79 Illinois high schools with an enrollment between 1,200 and 1,850 offer more sports than RBHS. He said that average number of sports offered by schools of that size is 22, the number of sports the school would be left with after cutting four sports.
Board member Laura Hruska said Tuesday night that she was inclined to support Ostrow’s recommendations.
“I could support this memo,” Hruska said. “These are very competitive prices for pay-to-play.”