DES MOINES, Iowa — Budget cuts within Des Moines Public Schools will eliminate strength and conditioning coaches at each high school, but officials say a new way to prepare those athletes will evolve in its place.
“When those things happen, we’ve got to find a way. We will work together to figure out how we can put some things together, pool our resources, be efficient and not let it affect our kids because that is what this is all about,” said Lincoln High School activities director Phil Chia.
Chia says stipends for all strength and conditioning coaches are being cut as part of the $14 million cuts districtwide caused by less government funding as enrollment declined during the pandemic.
The district is looking at multiple solutions, but Chia says it is non-negotiable about the need for strength and conditioning at Des Moines schools. The district is looking into contracting out strength and conditioning services to a third-party vendor, much like the district currently does with athletic trainers, uniforms and equipment.
“One of the advantages of a district of our size is that with multiple schools, sometimes you have a little bit of buying power. We do that with our athletic trainers, we do that with vendors of uniforms and equipment, and looking in that avenue has been brought up. We are going to explore that,” said Chia.
Another change will be a cut in middle school swimming, but the district says those athletes will still have an option to participate in the sport. Chia said, “Even beyond a feeder program for us, we need those kids engaged, and activities and athletics is crucial for that age group. I know our district has a department that works with middle schools, and even though there will be changes we are still going to everything to serve those kids.”
These changes will take effect July 1, 2021.