Gymnastics cut from Sioux Falls School District budget plan
The district presented the budget to the School Board for the first time Wednesday.
SIOUX FALLS — It’s official.
The Sioux Falls School District plans to eliminate gymnastics in the budget for the next school year.
Gymnastics supporters feared the cuts were coming following a similar move in Rapid City and previous district actions. Decreasing participation over the past decade and the need for equipment investments brought increased attention to the sport.
This school year, 44 students participated in gymnastics, including middle schoolers who compete through the high school teams.
The Sioux Falls School Board got its first look at the proposed budget for next year during a work session on Wednesday, April 5.
There was no discussion of the particulars of the budget but Jamie Nold, assistant superintendent for administrative services, said the recommendation came from a committee that included the activities directors at the schools.
The board will discuss the budget at a work session at 4 p.m. Tuesday, April 11. Tentative adoption is scheduled for the regular meeting on Monday, April 24. The final approval will come on July 10. Public comment is available at each of those meetings.
A packed house greeted the board at its meeting on March 27 as gymnasts, coaches and parents turned out to express their opposition to cuts.
At Wednesday’s working session, two parents spoke to the board.
Rebecca Mager, who is also a coach, said she and others are working to potential solutions to save the sport from cuts. That includes recruiting and training coaches, raising money from families, sharing equipment and donating labor to build a new floor for Jefferson High School.
One of the challenges faced by gymnastics in Sioux Falls is the potential for $200,000 or more needed for equipment, particularly for Jefferson, which opened two years ago without the beams, bars or floor necessary.
"I just ask that you consider our solutions,” Mager said. “One of the things we are very focused on is being solution oriented when it comes to this.”
Bobbie Tibbetts said her daughter has spent her life in club gymnastics and was looking forward to competing with the Lincoln High School program next year as a seventh grader.
Part of the issue is that the sport in high school isn’t emphasized by the clubs. That’s something that has to change, Tibbetts said.
“Being part of several clubs, there’s not a narrative that encourages high school gymnastics,” she said. “It is something that I and so many other parents will help drive change, throughout the clubs and throughout the community, just to say this is an option for gymnasts.”