$100,000 needed to save sports at STHS | TahoeDailyTribune.com

$100,000 needed to save sports at STHS

William Ferchland
Photo illustration by Dan Thrift and Jeff Munson/Tahoe Daily Tribune Lake Tahoe Unified School District approved plans on Friday to allow for a massive fund-raising campaign in order to maintain the athletic program at South Tahoe High School.

A full athletic program is likely to remain at South Tahoe High School for the 2004-05 year despite a two-thirds slash to its $236,000 budget.

All it needs is more than $100,000 in donations.

The plan to go ahead with all athletics was presented to the Lake Tahoe Unified School District board Friday by high school administrators who are banking on hefty donations by students, parents, community members and others who are willing to pay to avoid the elimination of sport programs.

Deadlines were given. Jack Stafford, associate principal, said 80 percent of the $58,700 needed in donations must be in by July 16 for the fall season. Donations of $44,500 for winter sports are due by Oct. 15 and $45,000 for spring is due in January.

“I don’t see any other way to operate these,” Stafford said.

Plans of cost savings exist if the donation levels aren’t met. Freshman programs – such as football and basketball, both boys and girls – could be absorbed into the junior varsity levels. Sports like cheerleading and skiing that aren’t sanctioned by the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association could be cut.

Small teams, like girls’ volleyball, could be transported by parents and coaches instead of the district’s yellow buses.

Officials are weary of the money saving technique since it increases the chance of liability and vehicle accidents. Legally speaking, the district cannot force students to pay for sports participation but it can encourage donations.

Parents can transport students if they have a valid driver’s license and after a vehicle check and fingerprinting.

A different story, and timeline, lies at South Tahoe Middle School. Associate Principal Jim Valdez presented three options to the board. They included an intramural system, narrowing the number of sports for competition or looking for outside revenue, like donations.

A decision on which of the three will be selected should arrive before the end of the school year on June 17, Valdez said, so schedules can be made.

Middle school athletics will have $17,000 from the district next school year, down from the $46,000 spent this year.

The third option has a daunting donation schedule. For example, figuring a team of 30 on a cross country team, each student would represent a $180 donation.

“It’s going to get ugly,” Valdez said in a vow to keep sports at STMS. “If you don’t have the money, you don’t have the money. But we’re going to do what we can.”

Friday’s meeting was attended by roughly 50 people who were mostly interested in the future of sports. Some said the loss of middle school sports would make high school athletics suffer.

“You can’t just have a high school program where athletes come in without the sense of competition,” said Larry Finkel.

The board voted 3-1 in favor of supporting the high school’s full athletic plan for next year. Barbara Bannar dissented, saying she didn’t like the clause of finding additional funds for athletics if they become available. Doug Forte was absent.

– E-mail William Ferchland at wferchland@tahoedailytribune.com.

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