Cedar Creek embarks on $5 million strategic athletic plan

Photo by Tim Smith

by Malcolm Butler

Cedar Creek School is embarking on a $5 million athletics strategic plan.

Head of School Cindy Hampton said that the plan is just one piece of the puzzle for the k-12 school as it prepares for re-accreditation and looks for ways to grow its overall enrollment numbers.

“This is just one piece of our overall strategic plan for our re-accreditation,” said Hampton. “We are up for re-accreditation next year. We have an overall strategic school-wide plan. Athletics is one component of this overall plan. Now, this is a lot more visible than the academic side. This will be more in the public eye than our in-house policy changes. We can use this more for marketing. This will grab people’s attention.”

The plan has already been approved by the Cedar Creek Board of Directors and $1.5 million in commitments have been pledged towards the projects.

An email was sent out to Cedar Creek parents over a month ago communicating the plan which will be geared towards upgrading athletic facilities.

“We have to invest in these kids,” said Cedar Creek board member Lance Hall. “We have the luxury of being a k-12 on-campus facility. Our ability to create a strong (middle school program) should transition to a successful high school program. It’s dynamic for us, and it comes from having the right facilities and development program in place.”

“We need to show success in all areas,” said Hampton. “Having a strong, stable coaching staff will help stabilize and help build for the future. I think when you have success (in athletics) that will just permeate and vice versa. When you get the right kids in that are mission appropriate, your academics will be enhanced and your athletics will be enhanced. It can be a win-win.”

According to Hampton, Cedar Creek’s enrollment hovers between 600 to 650 students per year with the average tuition around $8,000 per year (the school provides discounts for families with multiple children enrolled). The vast majority of the schools budget comes from enrollment dollars.

As enrollment numbers grow so would the yearly budget, allowing additional funds to go directly towards in-school needs, including the ability to increase the number of teachers and salaries if chosen.

“We have to be very good stewards of our finances,” said Hampton.

Hampton, Hall and others at the school feel that upgrading its athletic facilities will be a strong step in not only attracting families but retaining the ones they already have.

“From a parent’s perspective, if I see a school that is progressing and trying to get better and not just being satisfied with the status quo, that sends a message to me,” said Hampton. “Okay, they are visionaries. They are thinking about the future. They are not just thinking about the kids they have right now, but they are thinking about their future. That is the message we need to send.

“Everybody wants to be on a winning team. Everybody wants to be in a winning program, whether that be academics, athletics or arts. Everybody wants to be on a winning team.”

The email outlined seven pillars of the strategic plan, including a financial commitment and game-plan for raising the necessary funds to retain attract and retain coaches, add coaching positions, and address the facility needs.

“The athletics portion of this strategic plan has two different prongs,” said Hampton. “We have restructured our corporate sponsorships. It’s a pilot program this year, and we will see how that goes. And the second part of that will be getting a capital campaign started as quickly as we can. We will get a capital campaign together to see where we go. As you talk to people, new ideas arise. It’s going to be fluid as we go through this process.”

One aspect of the fundraising includes increasing annual corporate sponsorship dollars with a goal of raising the yearly total by three times from $65,000 to $200,000 within one year. Some of the increased funds would also go towards additional support for the spirit squads at the school. The plan also calls for a capital campaign that would fund upgrades and renovations in almost every Cedar Creek athletic venue.

Projects include:

  1. LED lights for our football, softball, and baseball fields
  2. Construction of a new secondary gymnasium that could support PE, cheer and dance groups, pee wee, middle school and varsity basketball
  3. Renovations to the Brick House gymnasium
  4. Resurfacing of the track
  5. A digital scoreboard for football
  6. An new all-sports strength and conditioning performance center
  7. Upgrades to baseball facility
  8. Total resurfacing of football field with natural grass
  9. Cosmetic upgrades to athletics fieldhouse

A specific timeline for all of the projects isn’t complete, but work will begin as soon as this summer. Creek officials believe that this will also aid in stabilizing its faculty and staff over the long run.

“Our whole plan about athletics is to help grow enrollment which will enhance the entire school, including the ability to raise teachers pay,” said Hall. “We want families to aspire to come to Cedar Creek because athletics and academics are equally important and equally successful. This investment in athletics will provide us an avenue that allows Cedar Creek to grow.”

Cedar Creek has hired three new head coaches over the past three months, including Katie Hall (girls basketball), William Parkerson (football) and Chad Yates (baseball).

Hampton said she feels as though the school is an important piece of elementary and secondary education in Lincoln Parish.

“We are a big part of this community,” said Hampton. “When families move into our area, sometimes they need a smaller environment for their children. Not every child can thrive in a big environment so Cedar Creek does serve a need in this community.”