Keller ISD's football programs begin to feel budget cuts

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by JIM DOUGLAS

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WFAA

Posted on April 7, 2011 at 6:38 PM

Updated Thursday, Apr 7 at 10:02 PM

KELLER - Sports programs, including football, will share the pain of budget cuts in the Keller Independent School District. 

District officials decided on $16 million in cuts to help offset an expected $38 million shortfall in state funding. 

The district's athletic department will absorb $800,000 by cutting budgets and some coaching stipends for virtually all sports.  

Kendall Adams, a sophomore at Keller High, heard the news Thursday that his father, an assistant coach and English teacher, was laid off.

"I was kind of surprised at first, but just trying to stay positive," Adams said.

"Being on a probational contract, once they did the numbers, I was kind of one of the first to have to be dismissed," said Shon Adams, Kendall's father.

He is a single dad who was working his first year as a teacher. Now, both the father and son hope the news doesn't mean they have to move from Keller.

"We're just going to try to keep working hard and keep getting better for next season for wherever we end up next year," said the son while practicing on the football field.

"The cuts that we are making are going to affect all middle school sports," said Bob DeJonge, Keller ISD athletic director. "It will affect every single high school sport budget-wise and stipend-wise."

DeJonge said that move essentially eliminates coaching jobs at every level, and will also force schools to drop some "C" team football squads. That means fewer opportunities for hundreds of students. 

"[Of the] about 2,000 kids in middle school and high school football, you would be eliminating probably about 500 to 600 of those kids from being able to be in those sports," he said.

Keller High's starting quarterback said that without "C" teams, he would have had to drop out of football years ago when he was not big enough or good enough to compete at the highest levels.

A state UIL official said Keller may be the first district in the state to let state budget cuts in education affect football programs. 

Keller faces millions in additional cuts unless voters approve a property tax increase. The school board has not yet voted to hold the election, but a spokesperson said an election is likely this summer.

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