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Placer raises $10K for sports

Parents, fundraisers may have to fill in for state shortfall
By: Sara Seyydin Journal Staff Writer
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Placer High School had a $77,000 deficit in athletic funding in the 2009-2010 school year, according to Dave Marquand, Placer Union High School District assistant superintendent for Administrative Services Budget cuts, along with recent legal action by the American Civil Liberties Union that led to a statewide crackdown on students being charged to participate in sports, have intensified funding woes. Unless viable solutions are found, many sports in the district are at risk for being cut next year, according to Superintendent Dave Horsey. While the situation may be disheartening, ACLU of Southern California staff attorney David Sapp said that even with the pay-to-play crackdown other districts have been able to keep all of their sports teams. “We don’t agree with the doomsday scenarios. There are high schools here that have kept their sports programs. Glendale and San Diego are examples,” Sapp said. “It will force school districts to be much more open and communicate with the community at large if this is a program they really want to exist.” Sapp also said that although the ACLU took on the pay-to-play and pay-to-learn cases, they have also lobbied for more funding for education. “The fact that public schools felt free to pursue this plainly illegal funding speaks to the broad dysfunction that is California’s system of financing public schools,” Sapp said. “Instead of ensuring that schools are provided the resources necessary for a free and equal education, our state has repeatedly slashed public school funding, leaving educators to scramble desperately for funding sources.” The Search for Solutions Horsey is one educator in that position. He said he is hoping that money from donations and fundraisers will be enough to keep all sports programs going in the district next year. But in the worst-case scenario some could be cut after re-evaluation of the budget this spring. “It won’t be arbitrary, which programs we cut. It would be a committee made up of parents, community members and coaches,” Horsey said. Friends of Placer High member Kim Lightfoot is one parent who doesn’t want to see it come to that. She was the chairwoman for the athletics fundraiser Casino Night on the Hill last Saturday. Power Pub owner Alfred Lee stepped up as a platinum sponsor, donating his facility for the event to be held in. Several parents and booster clubs donated silent auction items. The event brought in $10,000, according to Lightfoot. She said she doesn’t want sports programs cut because it would affect the entire community. “I want my kids to have the most out of their education. Good classes, sports in their lives, supplies,” Lightfoot said. “Without good sports programs and electives it makes it challenging to draw people to the area.” There are 10 to 12 members who regularly donate their time to the Friends of Placer organization, while other parents help out when called upon. Lightfoot said she is hoping each parent does what they can to contribute in some way. “There are all varieties of parents,” Lightfoot said. “If we all gave a little it goes a long way.” Julie Williams’ daughter Larisa is a sixth-grader at Bowman Elementary School. She was upset when she found out their field trip to the Egyptian museum was cancelled because the school couldn’t ask students to pay for it. By the time parents found out it was too late to begin fundraising. Williams said as Larisa gets older she wants her to have the same opportunities that her older children Jacob and Wendy had in Auburn-area schools. “The only solution I see is it has to be donations and fundraisers. I don’t know what else we can do,” Williams said. “Maybe sports is the only thing a kid is good at. With practices every day, that’s keeping kids off the street.” Williams said the cuts could also impact jobs of bus drivers and the viability of field trip destinations statewide. The Placer High track team was the only spring sport at Placer that was able to keep bus transportation. Other sports have had to use parent drivers for away games. Placer track coach Rick Foley said their buses were paid for by parent contributions. “The track parents said, ‘heck yeah,’” Foley said. Colfax snowboard coach Jack Morgan has been brainstorming this year about what he would do if the snowboard team were cut. “I’ve considered starting a competitive snow-sport system and maybe affiliating with USSA,” Morgan said. “They are considering it. Without high school sports it leaves a big gap.” Morgan said community-based club teams may be the way forward for sports on the brink of extinction. It would be legal to ask students to pay for participation if the team was not affiliated with the school. Horsey said he also wonders if more of the money that the California Interscholastic Federation makes from championship games could go back to the schools that draw the crowds. “Is there more of it that could go back to the schools?” Horsey said. “I am not going to tell them how to run their organization, but they might use it to off-set site needs or officials.” At this point Horsey said that while he appreciates all of the donations the community has made so far, more fundraising is the only solution he sees to keeping all of the sports in the district. “We need more of bigger, broader fundraising. Even if you can pay a portion of that it’d be greatly appreciated. Those types of things will be the saving grace.” Horsey said. Reach Sara Seyydin at saras@goldcountrymedia.com. ______________________________________________________ This is the second in a four-part series examining how the more strict enforcement of pay-to-play practices in the state of California will impact athletic teams in the Placer Union High School District. To read the first part in the series and to comment visit www.auburnjournal.com. Part One: What is the problem sports teams in the district are facing? Part Two: What are some potential solutions to these problems? Part Three: How will students and coaches be impacted if certain sports are cut? Part Four: What does the future look like for sports teams in the district? ______________________________________________________ Placer High Athletics Budget 2009-2010 at-a-glance Funds contributed from district for coaches: $76,000 Funds from ASB and Donations: $189,000 Total Expenditures on Athletics: $342,000 Total Deficit: $77,000