Last updated at 7:48 p.m. on Monday, March 6
The Anchorage School District says this spring season will see a new extracurricular sports for high school students, but that it will come at no extra cost to the district, which is facing major budget cuts.
In a statement released Monday, ASD spokeswoman Heidi Embley said stunt cheer will begin its inaugural season on March 20. She explained stunt cheer is “a USA Cheer-sanctioned head-to-head sport with teams competing to win the grand champion title” and focuses more on the technical and athletic side of cheerleading that includes tumbling, gymnastics and stunts.
“This highly competitive sport requires discipline, perseverance, and strong team work – all traits we encourage our students to possess to be successful in life,” ASD superintendent Dr. Deena Bishop said in the statement. “I’m excited this emerging sport will allow more of our students to showcase their skill and athleticism through offerings at school.”
The new program will replace the current competitive cheer program in place at ASD schools.
“The new extracurricular athletic option is separate from sideline cheer but will replace competitive cheer held in the fall and spring,” Embley explained. “Because it is replacing another sporting activity, there is no additional cost to the district.”
In an email to KTVA, Embley stated the district currently pays more than $8 million a year for what’s known as addenda, a stipend of sorts for schools that covers some of the overhead costs of activities like the cheerleading program and other sports, as well as added duty work for ASD staff. Those costs may include payment for coaches and referees and other incidentals. Additionally, in order to participate, student athletes must pay an activity fee and fundraise additional money that’s determined by the team or school, according to Embley, who also said ticket sales are a factor.
“With comp cheer going away, any money principals designated for that can go to stunt cheer,” she added. “The district is not giving schools any additional money for comp cheer.”
The program is for female students from ninth grade through twelfth grade. Girls interested in learning more about the program are encouraged to talk with their school’s activities office, Embley said.