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Cuts unknown

MHS athletics must wait before learning budget fate
So far, no major cuts are coming to the Madras High athletic budget.
   That could change after the 509-J budget committee comes out with its recommendations. Or after the 509-J board of directors approves a final budget for the 2008-09 school year in late June.
   The preliminary recommendation by interim Superintendent Kay Baker retained all 15 sports Madras currently offers (boys' and girls' tennis plus boys' and girls' golf counted as two separate sports). The MHS athletic budget was $297,000 for this school year with coaches' salaries the major cost ($164,000).
   That athletic budget also had $79,000 in projected travel costs. However, not all of those funds will be spent this school year, providing a slight savings, Madras athletic director Steve Johnson said.
   "Right now, we just don't know what kind of cuts we'll have," Johnson said. "We won't know until the final budget is approved."
   A final budget is scheduled to be approved on June 23. Before that, the district's budget committee will make a budget recommendation based on Baker's proposal and input from the public at its three public meetings (April 29 and May 6).
   That process leaves the MHS athletic budget in limbo, Johnson said.
   "If the budget committee decides to keep one or more teachers, that could mean the athletic budget could be reduced by as much as $60,000 (the approximate cost of retaining a teacher)," Johnson said.
   Johnson has also told the district's coaches to hold off on buying new equipment and supplies until the budget is approved.
   "Usually this is the time of year our coaches are looking to buy for next year," Johnson said. "This is the time of the year the real deals are out there, the coaches tell me. I've had to tell them to wait."
   Increasing the pay-to-play fee from the current $50 per sport (or $300 per family) was another option the district had considered. However, that was not one of Baker's recommendations.