Kevin Bonham / Forum News Service, Published February 16 2014
Devils Lake mulls dropping activitiesGRAND FORKS – Devils Lake (N.D.) School District residents will have a chance today to weigh in on the district’s plan to drop four student activities – boys and girls golf, girls soccer and cheerleading – at the end of this year.
The public meeting is at 5 p.m. today in the Sweetwater Elementary School library. A final decision is tentatively scheduled for March 10.
School officials cite declining enrollment and participation, as well as rising costs, as the primary reasons for the potential cuts, which could save the district as much as $40,000 annually, according to Superintendent Scott Privratsky.
“We looked originally at six programs, because of participation numbers,” he said. “The board ultimately chose four as potential cuts.”
The school board voted last week to take boys wrestling and girls hockey off the potential chopping block, at least for now, and to review those programs over the next year or two.
Privratsky said it’s not just about saving money. The board also is weighing Title IX rules, which requires equal opportunities for males and females, and cost per participant, as well as other factors.
Enrollment in grades 9 through 12 in Devils Lake has dropped from about 700 in 2000-01 to about 500 this year.
“We’ve added five activity programs since then,” the superintendent said. “We have 60 percent of our kids in high school participating in one activity or more. That’s good participation. But when you have such few numbers in some of the programs and 200 fewer students, the cost per participant rises.”
If numbers would stay consistent next fall, the Firebirds girls golf team would have just three participants, including two eighth-graders and a freshman, he said. One of them also competes in girls cross country and two are in volleyball. All of them are fall sports.
“We don’t have a lot of numbers for boys, either,” Privratsky said. “We don’t have any access to a golf pro, so it turns into more of a social activity for the kids.”
Devils Lake does not offer boys soccer. And the district is projecting just 12 girls in the soccer program next year.
“That’s not enough to maintain a program,” he said. “Devils Lake is not a hotbed for soccer like some areas are, such as Grand Forks, Fargo, Bismarck and Minot.”
The district’s activities review committee has been considering the potential program cuts since November.
“We are trying not to go through this too abruptly,” Privratsky said.
Bonham writes for the Grand Forks Herald