LISBON - The Lisbon school board was forced to do something this week it has not done in more than 20 years when it agreed to bail out the athletic fund to prevent the athletic department from ending the year with a deficit.
The action was taken on the recommendation of school Treasurer Cindy Shultz, who said this was the first time since 1990 or 1991 she had to recommend general fund revenue be used to subsidize the athletic fund.
The resolution passed by the board authorizes Shultz to transfer up to $5,000, if necessary. She is processing the final invoices for the school year to come up with an exact figure of how much is needed.
"The athletic fund has been self-sustaining... Hopefully, this is the last time we have to transfer funds in there," Shultz said.
According to board member Gary Peruchetti, the athletic fund ended the school year with a deficit of $15,963 based on $101,793 in expenditures. Football reported the largest deficit ($6,349) followed by softball ($4,487), baseball ($3,979), track ($3,368), girls basketball ($1,983), cross country ($1,389) and golf ($993). The only sports teams to turn a profit were boys basketball and volleyball.
"A lot of the sports just don't have the money coming in," he said.
School Superintendent Don Thompson said another problem is the fixed costs faced by all athletic programs, the biggest of which is providing transportation, which is an expense borne by the athletic fund. He noted that half of the other school boards in Columbiana County pay the transportation costs for their sports teams.
Thompson pointed out the deficit would have been greater were it not for the $28,000 raised by the various booster organizations and other donors. "Without that support from these booster groups we really would have been hurting," he said.
Thompson indicated the time may have also come for the board to consider paying the certification costs incurred by people wanting to serve as volunteer coaches instead of the athletic department continuing to pick up the expense.
The board instituted a drug-testing policy last year for anyone wanting to participate in extra-curricular school activities such as sports, and officials reported it ended up costing $6,000, or $4,000 less than expected. Peruchetti said the money to pay this comes from the general fund and not the athletic fund.
"That wasn't the problem," he said.