Funds for Quintal could not be used for gymnasticsUsing some of the funds available for the renovation of Joe Quintal Field to help offset the cost of the Mitchell High School gymnastics program was not an option, Superintendent Joe Graves told The Daily Republic Thursday afternoon. Graves, who in February introduced a plan to eliminate the gymnastics program at the high school and replace it with competitive cheer and dance, on Monday asked for — and received — the school board’s approval to spend $400,000 extra on Joe Quintal.
Using some of the funds available for the renovation of Joe Quintal Field to help offset the cost of the Mitchell High School gymnastics program was not an option, Superintendent Joe Graves told The Daily Republic Thursday afternoon.
Graves, who in February introduced a plan to eliminate the gymnastics program at the high school and replace it with competitive cheer and dance, on Monday asked for — and received — the school board’s approval to spend $400,000 extra on Joe Quintal.
That extra money, which comes from the district’s capital outlay reserves as well as unanticipated funding and interest earnings from bond proceeds, could not be used to help fund either the gymnastics program or the cheer and dance programs, Graves said.
“We have several different funds, but the main two funds are the general fund and the capital outlay fund,” he said. “The general fund is for paying salaries and buying supplies and the capital outlay fund is for building facilities, making major repairs and buying major pieces of equipment.
“Those two funds don’t overlap. You can’t spend capital outlay for general purposes or general funds for capital outlay purposes, so those two don’t have any relation to each other.”
Doug Eidahl, spokesman for a gymnastics parent group, declined to comment on the school board’s recent expenditures.
The school board’s decision to spend the extra money on Joe Quintal Field came a week after Graves proposed that the gymnastics program raise $16,000 to fund the program so it would be of no cost to the school.
This year’s gymnastics budget was $25,090, but the parent group and Graves found cost-cutting measures and whittled the budget down to $16,000 for coming years. The proposed budget for competitive cheer and dance — two separate sports — is $28,100.
Included in the cost-cutting measures were having gymnastics practice in the lower gym at the high school instead of renting the Knights of Columbus Hall, which costs the program $5,000 per year; using more volunteers to set up and take down equipment at meets; and cut one meet out of the schedule to cut back in travel costs.
At the March 15 meeting, Graves approved of the ideas to cut the cost of the gymnastics program by more than $9,000, but asked the parent group to raise all $16,000 of the remaining cost.
The parents said they would be willing to raise some of the money necessary to keep the program going, but didn’t think it was fair that gymnastics is the only high school program that has to raise enough money to support itself on its own.
“There are many different activities at the high school, and some of our activities do do some fundraising,” Graves said. “Show choir does a tremendous amount of fundraising; it just depends on which activity.
“What it comes down to is there’s not a lot of students in gymnastics, so that’s why I proposed to cut it, so we could open up two other sports that could have more participants.”
The parent group asked Graves to consider cutting down the amount that they would have to raise to keep the program alive, and he agreed to consider their proposal. Graves met with the group again Wednesday, and though nothing new was decided, Eidahl said the two sides are “getting closer” to an agreement.
“We’re continuing discussing what the school district is willing to fund and what they want us to fundraise,” he said. “We’ve identified the budget cuts. … Now it’s a matter of what’s appropriate for the school district to pay and what’s appropriate for the Mitchell gymnastics parent group to fundraise.”
Eidahl said the two sides were around $4,000 to $5,000 apart on how much they thought each side should pay.
“Dr. Graves was going to go back and see if he could come up with any more money and we’re going to go back and see if we could raise more and meet in the middle,” Eidahl said.
There is still no set deadline for a decision and, because of scheduling conflicts and the Easter holiday, the groups might not be able to meet again until the week of April 5. Until then, both sides will continue to look at numbers and budgets and decide what is realistic.
n The “Save Mitchell Kernels Gymnastics” Facebook Web site, which was started the day Graves announced his proposal, now has more than 1,000 fans. As of 9 p.m. Thursday, the site had 1,095 fans.
Eidahl said he has also noticed several letters to the editor in The Daily Republic showing support for the MHS gymnastics program, and a few of those letters were from other school districts.
“We’re hearing from other schools that if Mitchell dropped out, that hurts other schools in the (Eastern South Dakota Conference) and in the state,” he said. “It’s not only a concern locally, but for other schools, that (cutting MHS gymnastics) would reduce the level of competition.
“It’s certainly something that these groups have reached out to us.”