School district covers accumulated state travel account deficit

The school district has pulled money from reserves and other accounts to cover a $46,000 accumulated deficit in the account that pays for students to travel to state competition. Covering this school year’s state travel expenses and future years is still unresolved.

As students already have traveled to several state competitions this school year, including volleyball, cross country and wrestling, the account for 2023-2024 is back in a deficit until a consistent funding stream is determined.

The school board voted Nov. 20 to take money from reserves and other accounts to cover the accumulated shortfall dating back to last year.

“There has been little discussion regarding the FY24 (2023-2024 school year) state travel funding,” Kristy Andrew, district business manager, said in an email.

School district officials had recommended to the board using reserves to cover last year’s shortfall, turning to the community to cover this year’s and future expenses.

Wrangell Athletic Club secretary Leslie Cummings confirmed that her fundraising organization is not yet ready to help cover costs for state travel. Another meeting of the nonprofit had been set for Dec. 13 but was canceled due to scheduling conflicts of its board members. The group will try meeting sometime in mid to late January.

“I know we’re never going to tell a team ‘No.’ I mean, they worked their butts off,” said school board member Liz Roundtree. So far this year, every high school sports team has qualified for state competition.

“They’re getting so good,” she said. “It’s not something we want to deny them, but the school also needs help. We cannot continue to afford how much it costs for plane tickets and food, transportation while they’re up in Anchorage, hotel stays … it adds up, and the economy we’re in? It’s becoming a struggle.”

The district requires every student activity member who participates in regional competition and might go on to state to pay a $400 fee for the year.

“Each student does provide $400,” Roundtree said. “But that covers, what? The plane ticket?”

Roundtree said sports teams conduct multiple fundraising events during the year for travel and other needs, such as the wrestling team’s halibut dinner last month, the basketball team raising money through the concession stand at games, and the cross country running team’s car wash held in May.

“I know the swim team … they’ve been doing fundraising for a few different things,” she said.

“There are things happening,” she said. “I just wish I’d see more of it.”


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