AMESBURY — As rising costs have put a tighter squeeze on the Amesbury school budget over the past few years, more and more sports-related expenses have fallen upon outside parties as the athletics department struggles to fill in the gaps.
Last year, the School Committee voted to increase athletic participation fees by $75, raising the fee from $250 to $325 per child.
Though fees are not expected to go up again this year, the AHS All-Sports Boosters Club indicated that they’ve started taking on expenses that they’d never covered before, and now it’s getting to the point where the costs are beginning to outpace what its membership can support.
Sam Wilmot, president of the Boosters Club, said that the organization has always provided financial aid and purchased certain things like varsity letters, letterman blankets, trophies and sweatshirts for Amesbury athletes. But recently the group has also helped out with equipment and other things that traditionally were covered in the school budget.
“We’ve always done that, pay for the varsity letters, jackets, etc.,” Wilmot said. “But now we’re starting to buy equipment. We helped pay for the new high jump mats, we paid for the football pants for this coming year. From cheering to track we’ve bought stuff that we haven’t bought in the past, and it’s not in the budget — we don’t have the money.”
Over the past two years, Wilmot said the Boosters have spent an average of nearly $20,000 per year in support of Amesbury High School athletics. This past year, he said that included uniforms, equipment and the student bus that took fans to the varsity hockey team’s state tournament game in Chelmsford.
Compounding the problem is the fact that the Boosters are expected to lose a number of members in the next year as their children graduate from high school. Wilmot said he’s hoping the parents of incoming freshmen consider joining, saying that if the Boosters see their numbers bolstered, they’ll be better equipped to keep up with the increased expenses.