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Greg Lee: Kellogg residents need to step up, keep prep sports

Please don’t take this as me being insensitive in these belt-tightening times.

When it comes to funding athletics and assorted activities, I wish school district officials from Brewster to Bonners Ferry would use more common sense.

Take for example Kellogg, which is located about 30 miles east of Coeur d’Alene.

A levy to maintain funding for athletics failed last month. So the Kellogg School District has decided to cut about half its sports so it can save – brace yourselves for this – one-half of 1 percent of its total budget. Or roughly $50,000.

Kellogg is eliminating wrestling, baseball, softball, girls soccer, cross country and cheerleading next year. In the big picture, they’re saving pennies.

And if patrons don’t pass a follow-up levy next week, the rest of the sports – football, volleyball, boys and girls basketball, track and golf – will fall victim to the budget knife. That would mean a total savings of 1.5 percent. Again, pennies.

“It’s pretty minute in the overall picture of things,” Kellogg athletic director Dick Schreiber said.

A similar levy was held at Wallace, 10 miles east of Kellogg, and it passed overwhelmingly.

It’s my hope – and I think it’s a contention that’s gaining steam in the Silver Valley – that patrons can find a way to salvage all of the programs. Otherwise, Kellogg school officials can brace for an evacuation. Patrons will move so their children can have the opportunity to be in athletics/activities. Kids only go through high school once. You don’t get a do-over.

And for each student who leaves Kellogg for another school, that’s about $5,000 the district loses from the state. So what officials hoped could be gained by cutting some sports could end up being a bigger loss overall.

Let’s not fool ourselves. Outside of the classroom, activities are the most important part of school. Bottom line. You take activities out of school and you take the heart out of said school.

I’ve proposed this before, but perhaps it’s time the Silver Valley’s three schools – Kellogg, Wallace and Mullan – should consider consolidation. In Washington, for example, that’s what a number of B schools have had to do to offer athletics. Almira, Coulee and Hartline each at one time offered their own athletic programs. But now Almira/Coulee-Hartline is one consolidated school when it comes to athletics.

As long as the Silver Valley schools can survive on their own, though, the better. That means more opportunities for more kids. If you take three schools and shrink them into one, at least for athletic purposes, then it reduces the opportunity for kids.

Coeur d’Alene should have had two high schools sooner than 1994 when Lake City opened. It was a super-sized school for at least half a decade before then. Throw in Coeur d’Alene Charter and the handful of sports it offers, and it’s obvious that the more schools the merrier. I remember when CdA Charter was founded, it was said the school would be for those who longed for their children to be challenged academically.

A year had barely passed when CdA Charter started to offer sports. Today it offers boys and girls basketball, volleyball, cross country, track and tennis.

See, we all know what butters the bread when it comes to school.

“Sports are the only thing that keeps some kids in school,” Schreiber said. “I’m adamantly against cutting sports.”

Here’s hoping that Kellogg’s residents figure this out before it’s too late.