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CUNNINGHAM SPORTS BLOG--HOW DID YOU SPEND $162K?

CUNNINGHAM SPORTS BLOG--HOW DID YOU SPEND $162K? Click to Enlarge

I never thought I'd experience the whole "this is why my kid quit sports" thing with a five-year-old.

Is this normal, these days, to have a program for kids get the axe over a missing $162,790? Thought I'd ask before signing my kid up for another one of these boondoggles?

With rumors of missing money, lack of effort, and prejudice in the air, Grand Forks lost a sport for girls of all ages, elementary through high school last week, and the final nail will be driven in the coffin Wednesday night.

Red River Valley Gymnastics decided to cut its competitive cheer program last Thursday, two days after this cheer parent was told by a RRVG director that an effort to replace the coach, who is leaving after graduating from UND, would continue until June.

I was told about the timeline Tuesday night, and the letter was dated Thursday, meaning the decision was likely made Wednesday, a day after the June timeline was laid out.

Parents are bewildered as they prepare for a meeting Wednesday night, when the RRVG board has agreed to answer pre-submitted questions about the cancellation of the program.

The leading question: How did you blow $162,790 in one year?

The organization files financials that are open, and the numbers are troubling. In 2013, salaries, benefits, and other compensation for Red River Valley Gymnastics Inc totaled $320,761. In 2014, the number rose a modest $15,806 to $336,567.

In 2015, the number jumped to a whopping $499,357, a $162,790 increase in one year.

Today, I asked board President Laura Idso for an explanation. Her response was, "I will look into this and provide answers at the meeting."

Most of these coaches are students at UND. If they hired enough coaches to account for the increase, I would think they would have the resources to keep the cheer program. If they hired other help, at that level, I'd think Idso would know without having to look into it.

Worth noting, Red River Valley Gymnastics Inc ran at a $188,088 loss for the year in 2015, after making $49,187 in 2013 and $16,998 in 2014. I guess I hope the loss was a one-time blip, because I don't know of many organizations that can absorb that kind of annual hit.

Maybe cheer is expensive. We paid a monthly tuition, a registration fee, a music and choreography fee, a fee to the organization, bought a $75 uniform, and sold pizzas to cover expenses. We were told we would be billed for the competitions, after we drove ourselves, lodged ourselves, and fed ourselves. I thought we were covering all the expenses.

For now, our alternative is taking our daughter to Fargo twice a week next year. One of the coaches of Fargo's program was in town last weekend answering questions about the program. They have already begun working on a practice schedule that includes Sundays to keep weekday travel to a minimum.

I hope the community will not blame the parents for the money leaving town. Some of these girls have invested hundreds of hours, and their parents tens of thousands of dollars, on cheer, and they just want to see it through, and wanted to see it here.

Most of all, I hope this is not the new normal for kids activities. If it is, I can understand why parents throw in the towel.

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