AUBURN — School administrators have proposed cuts to four athletic programs to offset rising costs in transportation and athletic training.

The initial budget proposal of $58.9 million would be a 5.8% increase from the $55.7 million spending for this fiscal year that ends June 30.

The district will eliminate its Nordic ski and fall noncompetitive cheering programs, and the football and baseball teams will lose their first teams.

First teams are usually made up of freshmen, but may also include sophomores. The football and baseball programs would continue to support junior varsity and varsity teams.

“Nobody wants to make cuts or take away any opportunity from some kiddos, but we’re in a tough spot,” Athletic Director Todd Sampson said. “We’ve got to try to do our part to balance the budget and be mindful and respectful of the taxpayers.”

The cuts were made to impact the fewest number of students, he said. This year, there were four or five high school students and no middle school students in the Nordic ski program. Unable to hire a coach for this season, the district has been sending students to train with Leavitt Area High School’s team in Turner.


This model will continue, Sampson said. High school students will still be able to compete for Edward Little in Nordic skiing next year by training with Leavitt’s team in a cooperative agreement. Middle school students, however, will not be able to take part in the program.

Similarly, participation in fall cheering has been low, Sampson said. In the past few years, the program has had less than 10 participants.

The team, which cheers for the football team, could continue if the district was able to find a volunteer coach, he said. Competitive winter cheering will continue.

For the football and baseball teams, cutting the first teams will have little impact, Sampson said. First team football hasn’t had enough players to compete since before the pandemic, and baseball has had just a few weekend games.

“It’s really not going to take away any opportunities from anybody,” Sampson said. “We’ll have a full roster for (junior varsity) and anybody that wants to play football (and baseball) still will be able to.”

By ending these four programs, the district estimates it will save nearly $35,000 from transportation and officiating costs, as well as coaching stipends. Significant increases in transportation and athletic training costs however mean the cost center will still increase by $307.

When athletes need to leave for competitions earlier than 4:30 p.m. on a school day, the district must hire a private company to provide transportation, Sampson said. Like many districts in the region, Auburn has struggled to hire enough bus drivers to meet its needs.

Sampson said he had not calculated the cost increase associated with hiring private transportation for students.

In addition to program cuts, administrators plan to eliminate 23.5 mostly vacant positions – 15.5 are teachers – to help balance its budget.

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