Durango School District 9-R Superintendent Dan Snowberger outlined possible fundraising efforts Monday to pay off the annual loan for the Durango High School stadium. This year, district officials failed to raise enough funds for the loan, causing an unexpected budget shortfall.
Snowberger shared the ideas with members of the Athletics Booster Club and addressed concerns raised by a lack of fundraising for the $212,000 annual stadium loan payment that left the district’s athletics and activities budget more than $100,000 overdrawn at the end of the school year.
The budget shortfall worried some students and parents after the former athletic director sent out an email in May, outlining how the budget shortfall could be covered in part by using funds raised by individual teams. District officials said Friday money raised by individual teams will not be used to cover the shortfall.
Going forward, the district plans to do more careful accounting, educate coaches about how their budgets can be spent and have a greater focus on fundraising next year to ensure the payment for the $1.9 million stadium loan can be paid, Snowberger told parents.
“We will use this year as an autopsy to look at what we spent for every sport,” he said.
In some cases this year, funds were inappropriately spent by teams on items the district does not cover, such as team dinners, gear bags and other expenses. The district only covers travel, coach salaries, competition costs and uniforms.
“There are expenses that could concern me that we are going to have to get to the bottom of,” he said. He said he didn’t think the inappropriate spending was intentional.
Teams with inappropriate expenses will be expected to pay for them out of funds raised by their team, also known as 74 Funds, he said. He will be in contact with coaches about those expenses, he said. The rest of the shortfall for the athletics and activities budget will be covered by the high school, Snowberger said, previously.
Next year, teams will also be required to submit requisition orders ahead of ordering gear or materials to ensure the expense is covered by the district, he said.
New Athletic Director Ryan Knorr is aware of his responsibility to raise the DHS portion of the stadium loan, which is $112,000 annually, Snowberger said. Since the stadium was finished in 2016, the athletics department has never raised enough funds for the stadium loan payment, he said.
The district may start a Big Red 100 Club and ask individuals and organizations to commit to donating $100 a month for a year, in return receiving a plaque in the school, game tickets or other swag, he said.
The district has also discussed selling the naming rights to the stadium to raise $25,000 to $50,000, he said.
Booster Club parents suggested selling seats in the stadium for the season to help raise money for the loan and other athletic expenses, an idea Snowberger seemed open to.
Parents also expressed some concern that coaches were not involved in the meeting and had not received direct communication about the budget shortfall because buy-in from coaches is key to fundraising efforts.
Snowberger said he would reach out to coaches Tuesday and invite them to a meeting to discuss the athletics budget.
Booster club parent Jen Bond said she was not aware of the athletics department obligation to pay for the stadium previously and the recent shortfall could raise awareness about the district’s needs.
“In a way, it could be very helpful to paying off the debt,” she said.