Kingston College’s extracurricular activities in jeopardy due to lack of funding
School struggling to meet multimillion-dollar budget as old boys assist
Kingston College may have to cut back on some of its extracurricular activities come September, as the school administration reveals that the 98-year-old institution has been struggling to meet the multimillion-dollar budget to fund them annually.
Principal Dave Myrie made the revelation as he welcomed a $515,000 donation from the old boys from the class of 1979. The money was raised in under a year and was presented to the school last Thursday morning by alumni Oliver Roper, Lindsay Ramsay, Robert McKenzie, and Sydney England.
Already burdened by academic needs and a growing list of underprivileged students seeking assistance with uniforms, examination fees, bus fares and meals, Myrie told The Sunday Gleaner that it was only through God’s grace and angel donors that the school is surviving.
Yearly allowances from the Ministry of Education have just not been cutting it, and with school fees no longer mandatory, parents’ contributions have decreased from 99 per cent to 25 per cent, the principal explained.
If each parent of the approximately 1,800 students contributed even $1,000 towards operations each month, the school would be in a much better position, he charged.
“Running the curriculum in itself is a massive cost, and it is not something that is budgeted for either because the budget is not there,” Myrie told the group of old boys last week.
“Extracurricular activities are another massive cost. If you take all the extracurricular activities and lump them together, they would be bigger than the school’s budget,” the principal explained, adding that the feeding programme for the school’s track and field team over a five-month period is about $7 million. “And then you have medicals, vitamins, hydration, etcetera,” he noted.
“If you look at the quiz team, once they are training they try to have a retreat every month or every two weeks; and each one of those costs us about $450,000,” he said. “And every time they have a match they want to camp as well, and it costs us around $300,000 to rent a couple of rooms for the boys.”
Budget cutbacks have been made for most sports, while there are considerations for some activities like rugby and hockey to be discontinued altogether, the KC principal shared.
If it were not for the old boys who continue to provide the gear and equipment needed, practically all the sports programmes at the school would be in jeopardy.
“On the day of competition in every sporting discipline you have to feed all the boys. Even in swimming, in which we have tried to cut down. As small as the group may be the cost is high,” Myrie noted.
“We do very well in table tennis, but the cost for table tennis is higher per individual than nearly any other sport. Luckily, we have old boys who send us the bats and so on, but if we were to fund table tennis it couldn’t happen at all.”
Last year’s contribution from the Ministry of Education, which included staff salary, was $34.4 million, but the actual spend by the school was $55.95 million. For 2023, it is projected to be much bigger.
Thursday’s donation will immediately go towards funding outstanding debts and a current need for toners, paper and clocks for exam rooms, Myrie said.
“And remember, the PATH programme works out to about $200 a day which really cannot buy anything, so the school has to supplement that. Besides that, there are old boys who set up accounts at the canteen to pay for lunch for some boys. That is just how KC is,” the principal stated.
‘KC HAS MOULDED US’
IT manager Oliver Roper, one of four members of the class of 1979 who participated in the handing over Thursday, was taken aback by Kingston College’s funding predicaments.
“I had to send a message to the group stating the concerns and discuss with them how we can address them,” he told The Sunday Gleaner.
“The more students are involved in these extracurricular activities is the less time for other things that will force them to deviate into non-school things, such as gangs. So we want to encourage the engagement and definitely want to see how we can keep them mentored. Even if we can’t do it ourselves we can get persons to come and do it.”
He said last week’s donation was initially geared towards the feeding programme and was mostly put together by past students overseas.
“KC has moulded us in such a way that we have received so much. It has placed us in a position where we can take care of ourselves and our families and the school. So giving back is just a part of what we can do,” Roper said.