Referee Bob Pace of Colorado Springs conducts the coin toss before a 5A playoff game between Mountain Vista and Legacy at Five Star North Stadium Nov. 6.
File photo by Stefan Brodsky
It’s not a secret that the Colorado High School Activities Association is dealing with a shortage of game officials in several sports. CHSAANow.com called it “one of the most significant threats” to its programs and activities.
That, along with paying officials, is why CHSAA formed a task force to address some of these issues.
“This is an issue that deserves our immediate focus and a true sense of urgency, and that is how we are approaching it,” said CHSAA Commissioner Mike Krueger in the CHSAANow.com statement, “We have already established and met with our new task force, which brings a variety of officials voices to the table; working with a leading researcher we have just recently undertaken a comprehensive research study to analyze pay rates both nationally and regionally; we are meeting with our member schools to garner insights and information and discuss how school budgets will be affected."
The state of Colorado ranks at the bottom in the country in officials' pay across all athletics and activities, and the state’s high schools take on most of the funding.
The statement said the schools agree that changes need to be made and pay for officials has to be increased. But, for schools to make such a decision, the statement said, they need data and research, especially in times of tight school budgets.
“I want our officials to know that they are the highest priority for myself, Monica, our office at CHSAA, and of course for our membership,” said Michael Book, the assistant Commissioner who oversees officials for CHSAA. “Our goal, and what we are striving for, is to be among the leaders in what we pay our sports officials. We will continue our efforts to create new and impactful initiatives that address challenges like poor sporting behavior and encouraging schools to stress hospitality for our officials; but the pay issue is also at the forefront and we are addressing it immediately.”
Krueger cautioned that this is an issue with many parts.
“It will take time to fully address,” he said in the statement. “However, our plan right now is to have a substantive first steps recommendation to our membership as early as this January, a plan that will allow us to work responsibly with schools’ budgets while at the same time allowing for a significant impact to officials pay that not only makes Colorado competitive but a leader in this area.”
CHSAA wants to release the initiatives within the next couple of months. CSHAA’s legislative council could cast a vote in January, and officials want the new plans to be in place in time for the next school year.