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Local 5 - weareiowa.com | Des Moines Local News & Weather | Des Moines, Iowa

High school activities departments hurting financially, but hope may be coming

Gov. Kim Reynolds' announcement about opening vaccine eligibility to all adults could help these departments finally rake in some cash.

DES MOINES, Iowa — After a full year with modified activities, high school activities departments are still trying to navigate a way forward financially.

"A lot of people talk about the college aspect but the high schools are hurt," Grinnell High School Activities Director Chris Coffman said. "Just trying to struggle through the whole, everything that's going on. We are trying to make sure we maintain and continue to do what we've been doing with offering all of the sports and activities."

Making ends meet was not easy the last year. Most of the revenue for high school activities departments comes from attendance and concessions and last year, the biggest revenue streams were limited.

"Looking at football, I think we were down about a third from admissions," Coffman said.

That loss of revenue meant schools had to cut back on the little things like equipment and uniforms to avoid making bigger cuts.

"I think activities directors across the state are a little concerned. 'How are we going to do this?' None of us want to cut sports or activities," Coffman said. "We aren't there yet though."

Now there is hope for the future, with Gov. Kim Reynolds' announcement on March 17 that all Iowans should be eligible for the vaccine starting April 5. 

RELATED: Gov. Reynolds says Iowa on track to open eligibility to all adults by April 5: 'Soon there will be enough vaccine for everyone'

"Hopefully, as the vaccine and time goes on we are able to get people more comfortable and feel good about coming back to the sporting events," Coffman told Local 5.

A sentiment that is echoed by other activities directors. 

"We are hoping once we are able to loosen attendance restrictions, that can help with these shortfalls," a CIML activities director told Local 5. Meanwhile, schools deal with a weight bigger than budgets.

"As we are talking about budgets, it's huge but it's more than that. Trying to get kids feeling safe and comfortable is a constant fight of both extremes where some people are worried and some are not," Coffman said.

The IHSAA told Local 5 they are still planning adapted protocols for the spring season because kids are still not eligible for the vaccine. The association said they will reevaluate and look at possible adjustments for the summer season at a later time.

RELATED: Southeast Polk's Denny Muller now in his 50th year of coaching

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