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Baumholder’s David Crow, top, tries to flip Ramstein’s Ryan Gough during their first-place match in the 119-pound division at the Ramstein regional wrestling tournament in Ramstein, Germany, in February. Because of budget cuts, Baumholder is considering dropping wrestling and other sports.

Baumholder’s David Crow, top, tries to flip Ramstein’s Ryan Gough during their first-place match in the 119-pound division at the Ramstein regional wrestling tournament in Ramstein, Germany, in February. Because of budget cuts, Baumholder is considering dropping wrestling and other sports. (Raymond T. Conway / S&S)

BAUMHOLDER, Germany — High school sports could be on the chopping block in what Kaiserslautern District officials describe as a more fair and equitable formula for funding after-school activities.

But students, parents, faculty and administrators at Baumholder High School, which stands to lose $32,000, counter that Department of Defense Dependents Schools couldn’t have picked a worse time or place to start, with many parents perhaps only weeks away from an Iraq deployment.

“This is going to have a big impact on Baumholder, where there are no … host-nation amenities or access to other activities,” said Lt. Col. Mike Money, a member of Baumholder High School School Advisory Committee, during a June 16 round-table interview with students, parents and faculty.

If the school is forced to cancel some varsity sports and other after-school offerings, that will leave little for high school students to do here, Money said.

Under a new formula for proportioning extra-duty compensation — the money that funds most extracurricular programs — high schools will get substantial cuts, while elementary and middle schools will get increases.

Overall funding is not decreasing.

In the long run, high school principals are going to have to get more creative in the way they run sports and after-school academics, with more teachers and parents willing to pitch in without pay, DODDS officials say.

Beginning next year, the district is changing the way after-school programs are funded, said Midge Rach, business manager for the Kaiserslautern District.

During what are termed “staff assistance visits,” DODDS officials found huge inequities in what schools were receiving in extra-duty compensation funds, Rach said. Some high schools were receiving as much as $356 per student, while some elementary schools were receiving as little as $30 per student, according to DODDS documents.

There was no formula and little accountability, Rach said, with some schools spending their extra-duty budgets, then borrowing from supply budgets or from money for one-time events, she said. But the extra money would stay on their extra-duty accounts for the next year until some schools had built up large budgets, she said.

This money covers pay for teachers and others who perform a variety of after-school functions, from coaching to tutoring to updating the school Web site.

Principals have total discretion as to how the funds are spent. Overhauling the extra-duty compensation proportioning system was not an “arbitrary and capricious” decision, Rach said. “Over time, it had gotten out of control.”

Archie Bates, outgoing district superintendent, decided some schools were getting “short shrift and couldn’t offer the after-school activities they wanted to offer,” Rach said.

While some schools such as Baumholder will get extra-duty cuts, “it doesn’t have to be all or nothing,” she said. Principals must decide, for example how much — or if — they pay assistant coaches, and even which after-school programs should remain, according to Rach and a June 15 e-mail sent by Bates to Baumholder SAC members.

“They’re losing the most in terms of money, but they don’t have to lose programs because they have flexibility in what they pay,” Rach said.

But Baumholder teachers and administrators say that the new formula falls short on several points. For example, the changes are not DODDS-wide, leaving district schools teams at a competitive disadvantage. His school could face schools still paying coaches extra-duty compensation, said Dom Calabria, Baumholder principal.

Parents and teachers at the June 16 meeting stressed that students have a huge incentive to maintain grades in order to remain eligible for athletics. Moreover, some students may end up losing college athletic scholarships if extra-duty compensation cuts make Baumholder teams less competitive.

Thomas and other parents emphasized that the budget cuts coming during a deployment is, above all else, a morale issue at H.D. Smith Barracks, home to about 5,000 soldiers assigned to the 1st Armored Division’s 2nd Brigade and Division Artillery. The base is about 30 miles north of the Ramstein/Kaiserslautern complex, and the small town of Baumholder has no youth-friendly destinations, only a small number of stores, restaurants and bars.

With nothing for teens off base and a deployment looming, “it’s critical we have more things going on, not less,” Calabria said.

“My response would be, they need to work closer with [Morale, Welfare and Recreation], volunteers and others,” Rach said, adding that the school can’t be the sole teen activity center. “This is a chance for people to put their heads together and come up with more activities.”


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