Billings Public Schools refuses to accredit high school baseball | Regional news

Invoices – Billings Public High Schools will be without baseball until at least spring 2025.

School District 2’s board of trustees voted 5-3 against adopting the sport for Western high schools, seniors, and Sky View. The intent was to take the necessary steps to properly fund and implement the sport into spring sports schedules that would not begin until spring 2024.

Prior to the vote, SD2 Director of Athletics and Activities Mark Wahl presented a possible start-up plan to implement if approved. Details included total and individual cost calculations using numbers that simulate current district softball funding due to similar schedules and requirements.

It is estimated that approximately $33,000 was needed per school to start the program through various fundraising plus an estimated $125,000-$140,000 in annual expenses from the District General Fund to maintain.

Earlier in the month, Wahl met with representatives from local Little League and Major League Baseball teams, Billings Parks and Recreations, and Billings Mustangs. He said he had unanimous support for adding high school baseball and a willingness to work together to ensure there were no scheduling conflicts and that fields were available.

Over the past month, surveys have been conducted of both high school students and communities asking for their interest in adding baseball with the majority in favor.

Expressing support for the vote at the meeting, Legion baseball coach Tyler Bush said his annual budget is $500,000 and that embracing the sport in high school will create opportunities for other kids who aren’t currently playing.

“I guarantee you there are kids who don’t have enough money to play baseball in Legne,” he said.

Wahl added that it would be difficult to fully implement the sport in the region, but that the community feedback he received would have made it possible.

“I realize there is a cost to doing this and that’s the big concern you have to keep in mind,” Wahl told the board. “We have strong support from other organizations…and I’m confident we can make this work for our participants.”

Besides financing, he highlighted potential challenges such as additional field preparation and maintenance for additional games along with the crews the district needs to do so throughout the season. Recent increases in transportation costs, coaching and refereeing positions held during previous meetings were also discussed.

In January, the Montana High School League adopted baseball as an official sport with individual school districts deciding whether or not to adopt baseball as part of their activity offerings. Since then, 22 schools — including AA schools in Butte and Belgrade — have voted to adopt baseball in spring 2023. The addition of wrestling girls to SD2 has allowed SD2 to explore the possibility of adding baseball while adhering to Title IX requirements.

Prior to the vote, the Board Trustees had expressed their desire to add baseball, but felt that existing funding was not available to maintain it effectively among other budgets and the current elementary school budget shortfall.

“I really want to approve this, but I don’t know where we’re supposed to find the money,” said Jennifer Hoffman, board secretary and vice president. “$140,000 a year…to pay for baseball, I don’t know where it’s supposed to come from.”

Despite not voting, the board said they would be willing to reconsider the option when financing was no longer an issue. Wahl said it would almost certainly happen because of the amount of public attention it was receiving.

“If it doesn’t work out tonight, I think it will come [again]. I think there is a large enough baseball community out there. “I think it comes every year for adoption,” Wahl said.

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