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High school sports face funding challenge

Original post made on May 18, 2012

For years the biggest problem facing high school coaches in Pleasanton has been determining who will be the key players and how to beat opposing teams.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, May 18, 2012, 12:00 AM

Comments (32)

Posted by me
a resident of Foothill High School
on May 18, 2012 at 4:17 pm

I have lots of comments on this on many levels... I have child that participates in sports at Foothill.

FAB has done a wonderful job and I applaud the countless and selfless hours of volunteering. However, I have issues with the comment that parents are not willing to help. I don't think that is an accurate reflection of the parents at FHS. I will say that I did volunteer to help at the most recent fundraiser. I was told the committees were full and they would contact me about helping the day of. No one ever contacted me. I've volunteered at the meat sale and there are always too many people and people are standing around with nothing to do. I understand how this happens and why, but please don't say that there is not enough help. I think Foothill parents are willing to step up. Maybe the FAB needs a volunteer coordinator?

Two...Foothill is bending over backwards to make it 'an option' to pay. Umm...parents... it's not an option, unless you don't want the sport. Now, I know there are some kids that can't pay... and we can cover those few kids. But I would guess there are alot of parents that can afford it and just don't think they will cancel the sports or that they should have to pay .

There should be a scholarship fund.. but there should be some demonstrated financial need for it. Maybe the kids that qualify for reduced lunch or some other financial hardship (I would guess that there are families that have financial hardships that don't qualify for reduced lunch). Can we ask families that can't afford to pay chip in other ways like working in the snack bar, etc.

We are too politically correct... the current rumor at FHS is that teams have been told by the administation to stop asking for money because parents have complained and 'are tired' receiving the requests? Umm.. if you don't like it, delete your email. OK...we have to raise money for our sport, but we can't ask for it? How exactly does that work.. can the administration tell us that one?

I support athletics. There is a value to atheletics partipation. I will always pay my child's way and help how I can... because I don't want academics to suffer. But I think parents are tired of the district cutting things they know the parents will eventually cover anyways. Until parents see that the district has made decent cuts at the administrative level, they are going to be reluctant to chip in more.

Posted by taxpayer
a resident of Downtown
on May 18, 2012 at 5:56 pm

Sports are not what our taxes should pay for, sports and other non-academic activities need to be paid for by the participants.

Posted by I agree
a resident of Birdland
on May 18, 2012 at 8:10 pm

I agree with Taxpayer. Sports and non-academic related extra cirricular activities should be paid for by the participants. You can't pay - you can't play...unless there is a hardship (which should have to be proven to the administration some way). Then the fundraising activities a particular group does could pay for the scholarships for those who really need it. Not because someone just doesn't feel like paying their fair share. Put down your Starbucks, Smartphones and expensive purses and give that to the organization that your son/daughter is playing on/for. We shouldn't expect others to pick up the slack for those who are not truly in a hardship situation.

Posted by Elementary school
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 18, 2012 at 9:02 pm

Elementary schools in Pleasanton face a funding crisis - for reading!!!

Posted by joe plumber
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 18, 2012 at 9:20 pm

It isn't legal for CA schools to require that students pay for sports. The ACLU has sued several schools for trying to work around the law attempting to make students pay for sports/e.c. activities.

Posted by Plumbers butt
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 19, 2012 at 8:48 am

The ACLU(purpose w/o a cause) does not define case laws. As long as there is a reasonable way for a student to be funded if they do not have the resources, the ACLU will not have a leg to stand on. School lunch programs are a good example, my kids pay(or pack thier own lunch) as do most others, poor kids do not. The argument whether taxes should go to sports and other non-academic activities is a whole other debat, PUSD does not even have the funds to pay for the academic activities due to the tea party kooks that have infested this town. The VP at Foothill has obviously been spooked by somebody as she puts way too much emphasis on "Fair Share" being optional and has interpretted the law and even the ACLU lawsuits way beyond thier spirit or intent to the point most believe it her agenda t do away with the Foothill sports program. School sports/band and other activities are important as they tie students to thier high school communty and create an alternative peer pressure to the one that exists in the absenc eof these activities.

As far as other Foothill parents, an embarassing percentage of you have not paid your fair share (Over 1/2), the school distric pays zero, which means that parents that paid thier fair share - are also paying yours!!!!

Posted by Lance M
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 19, 2012 at 2:45 pm

"With the expense of club sports, people are getting to the point it is hard to pay for high school sports when they are going to be shelling out $5,000 or more for a summer of club sports."

You would be hard-pressed to find a high school athlete in Pleasanton that does not participate in club sports the rest of the year (not just the summer). If they can and are willing to pay for these expenses, why can they not pay for the high school team. Or perhaps why even bother (they mentioned the connection with the school, which I agree with, but if there is no money, there is no money). It is a very delicate balance because no student should be denied the opportunity to participate in HS athletics based on finances, but another fact remains is that those who are not competing (and paying for) club sports are usually not making the varisty team. Not a good situation (as far as I am concerned) but it is the current situation in PTown.

Posted by volleymom
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on May 21, 2012 at 10:05 am

As an AVHS parent of three, I am indebted to Sally Parsons, who runs the annual Purple & Gold Gala every year. It is a fabulous evening and a huge money maker. I would be very unhappy if sports teams had to be cancelled at AVHS just because FHS does not have an effective fundraiser like Sally.

Here is my answer: BOTH high schools should hire Sally Parsons as a professional fundraiser for athletic programs. It is time to start thinking big, and Sally has the know-how to do it.

Posted by anon
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 21, 2012 at 10:53 am

It is not the fundraiser (chair) that makes these events, it is the people who participate, and sadly, the Foothill community doesn't step up. Amador has been around for many many decades and has dedicated, supportive alumni. Foothill has been around since 1973, and the alumni and current community are not on board. It is sad. Foothill's Athletic Boosters use the same fundraising model as AVHS, so it shows that is not the problem. It is the apathy in the FHS community that is.

Posted by PINTOCA
a resident of Highland Oaks
on May 21, 2012 at 10:56 am

I think that the we ought to open the discussion up to how we operate and fund sports within Pleasanton in order to re-balance the cost and accessibility of sports programs for and within the city. Firstly there are lots of privately operated for profit sports teams in Pleasanton, they use Pleasanton parks, parks and properties for a nominal fee. To a great extent those "for fee" sports programs are used by the folks that can not get into or play for their schools because the programs are not broad enough or inclusionary enough at the schools to attend to the variety of levels of skills that are present in the school population. In essence the Schools have outsourced a great deal of the sports community to "for Fee" programs. The answer to the funding should be to raise fees on the non-school programs and transfer those fees to the school while at the same time expanding the school programs to be more inclusionary within the school communities. The key perfomance indicator of this should a) percentage of kids involved in sports within pleasanton b) effective investement per kid involved in sports in pleasanton

Posted by Bob
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 21, 2012 at 11:57 am

Many other non-academic activities have had their funding cut or taken away totally (music and arts for example). I can not see why sports should be treated any different. Whatever funding exists for extra curriculum activities should be equally distributed between ALL, so if there is enough money to offer such activities, students can sign up. If there is no money, there should no such activities offered. Sports are an extra curriculum activity as much as music or ceramics. It should NOT have special treatment, no matter how loud parents scream about it.

Posted by me
a resident of Foothill High School
on May 21, 2012 at 2:08 pm

I agree with 'anon ' that it is the FHS community that is not on board. I think part of the problem lies with the administration that is so afraid of parents raising at stink about having to pay. They bed over backwards to make sure everyone knows it is 'voluntary' that and parents are not 'required' to pay that many of the parents take them up on it.

Posted by nancy s
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 21, 2012 at 4:29 pm

@me - exactly! I know the AVHS teams know up front they HAVE to pay and they HAVE to participate in fundraising. You start telling the FHS parents to pony up time or money and they say "no way" "we don't have to". If I can't give of my time, I give of my money or vis versa. The FHS community wants "somebody" else to do both, but not them. It always is the same handful of parents that volunteer for everything, and it is the majority of parents that do nothing that grumple when things don't happen or things are cut. This says it all: AVHS Athletic Boosters grossed $175K from their Purple & Gold Gala, whereas all three Booster Clubs at FHS (Athletics, AABC, Band) worked together and only grossed $50K from the Denim & Diamonds fundraiser.

FHS community you need to step up.

Posted by fhsparent
a resident of Del Prado
on May 21, 2012 at 4:49 pm

I agree that the FHS community must step up and become more involved. The boosters have been trying this, and will continue to reach out to the community. However, the VP has become overly concerned with the term 'voluntary' donations; she must have repeated this at least a dozen times at the spring sports meeting. Well if you hear something enough times, you begin to believe it. Enough already, say it once, and then focus on the truth - for ANY excurricular activity parent support/financial support is crucial. Stop giving everyone an excuse not to pay. A growing number of the FHS population have adhered to the VP's mantra, and simply adopted the philosophy ' well, it's voluntary, so I don't have to pay'.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Vintage Hills
on May 21, 2012 at 5:17 pm

I think the Administration has to get tougher......if you want your student to play - they MUST pay. This is an issue that is not going to go away. I have watched the demographic in Pleasanton change and along with that an attitude of entitlement has arisen. If parents can pay for tutoring and cars and the latest electronics ....they can also pay for extracurricular activities. There are just too many that have figured out that all you have to say is, " I can't pay or don't want to pay" and the fees get taken care of by others. EVERYONE should have to pay. Kids benefit from these extracurricular activities in many ways - college applications & scholarships are just a couple of them. You are investing in the future of your must be expected to contribute to that. No longer can folks get a free ride. Get on board FHS. Your parents do not run the school - you do. If your child wants to play - you must pay. If it's truly a financial burden - then fundraise for it but stop taking the free ride.

Posted by Favoritism
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on May 21, 2012 at 11:10 pm

High school sports are not really high school sports. There is no equal playing field for who is chosen to be on teams, no pun intended.

And talent does not matter in who is picked to play on the teams.

Actually, what happens is that the coaches hired by PUSD come from private leagues, and these coaches primarily pick players to play on the high school teams that played on their private league teams. It is based on favoritism and politics.

And meanwhile, the PUSD administration is useless because, like the sports teams, their hires for administrators and teachers and consultants are based on nepotism and favoritism and politics and the good ol' boys network, too.

Posted by new mom
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 22, 2012 at 8:49 am

to Favoritism:

I don't think that is always true.... I have a feeling I know one situation at AVHS that you might be referring to. However, my child was new to FHS and made a FHS team within 2 weeks of moving to the community. Additionally, there are other sports that are not as competitive and some that even are 'no cut' such as cross country and track and field.

I agree sports are really valuable. If someone doens't have a child in sports, they may not see the benefits. I've had a 'non-sports' child go through high school (not here) and now I have a sports child currently in high school. Don't kids yourself about the amount of determination and self drive it takes to be successful at sports, in particular sports like running or swimming. There is a lot of character building there. Additionally, sports is a way for a child to be successful and belong. Not everyone is an A student, but everyone has some strength. Ths... the case for all extra curriculars... sports, band, art, and music to name a few.

I am willing to kick in for sports, especially so academics don't suffer. But people who say' my tax dollars shouldn't pay for sports'..... please. It is an investment in our youth. The FUTURE of this country. Few, if any, children who play HS sports will go on to play in college or professionally. But the lessons of hard work, self determination, being part of a team, building confidence and winning or losing gracefully are the things that develop character and help shape our young people into the kind of people that we want them to be.

Posted by welk said
a resident of Foothill High School
on May 22, 2012 at 9:01 am

Well said new mom. Those who can pay should support your student's endeavor regardless whether they are in the starting line up. Character building comes from the journey and from their personal determination to succeed. And it will benefit them their entire life.

Posted by Pay up
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 22, 2012 at 9:12 am

I know of families who do NOT pay for sports because of the way the "fair share" or "voluntary" is put to them. I'm sorry but either you pay or your kid doesn't play - unless it is PROVEN that you have a financial burden. It's just not fair to the parents who do pay to pick up your slack. And by the way "fair share" does not mean "zero."

Posted by new mom
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 22, 2012 at 9:56 am

I have to say that the community where we moved from, sports and other activities were paid for, in some part, by school budgets (ie., tax dollars). The school budgets covered the Athletic director, facilities, transportation and coaches. We did contribute a small amount for band. In certain sports and activities uniforms were provided (but turned in at the end of the season), in others the parents bought them. There were also booster clubs for athletics, band and vocal and they did a decent amount of fundraising. I don't know exactly what was covered by whom, but it seems like a joint effort. There was just not the ruckus and DIVISIVENESS that there is here.
We paid alot for property taxes (a much higher percentage of property value than we do here, but houses were not as expensive)
We had pride in our schools and their success...academically, musically and on the fields. We wanted our children to be the best that they could be.... and the community is willing to all share the cost, because we all reaped the benefits. The benefits included having a good stable community, good kids (of course there are the normal kid problems) and high property values.
The anger and harsh words that people say here amaze me. It doesn't feel like a community at all. It is every person out for themselves here or something... I don't know how to put it into words. But there is alot of anger here.

Posted by Paying their own way
a resident of Birdland
on May 22, 2012 at 10:27 am

The reason that the VP of the FAB at Foothill speaks over and over the fact that the fees are voluntary is coming straight from administration. Do you think that she would say that otherwise? The school is so afraid of parent complaints that they are bending over backwards to let parents know they do not have to pay. I believe that the message should get across that if you can pay you should. No one should get a free ride if they can afford to pay.

Posted by Pay up
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 22, 2012 at 11:42 am

@paying their own way
I think the message is getting across - that's not the problem. And of course, those that can pay, should. The problem IS there are those who can and who don't because they know they have the option. Some people will never do or pay their fair share of anything, just the way the world works.

Posted by nancy s.
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 22, 2012 at 3:43 pm

The reason the VP at Foothill is being so transparent is because the DO (district office) is telling her she has to be. There are lawsuits floating around the state, PUSD is part of them, dealing with the issue of requiring people to pay for extra curricular activities in a public setting. Basically, if it is a public school, you cannot deny a child the right to participate, even if they do not have the funds to pay for it. While one of the high school here in Pleasanton has always "required" athlete families to fundraise, pay certain amounts, etc. legally they can't do so. The problem is at the other high school here in Pleasanton, the families choose not to pay, even if they can afford it. This isssue is going to get messier and more complicate before it is resolved, unfortunetly at the expense of the students.

Posted by so fundraise
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 22, 2012 at 6:47 pm

Well, give athletes the option to aggressively fund-raise (aka pay their own way) or opt out of fundraising by cutting a check. This idea of it being a "donation" needs to go. Everyone must pay to cover costs - either by raising funds or making a donation. I find it hard to believe it is "illegal" to require fundraising...

Posted by Resident
a resident of Vintage Hills
on May 22, 2012 at 9:13 pm

The demographics are very different between the two high schools and FHS demographics certainly has an entitlement attitude. I've watched this for a few years and it seems to be getting worse. Extracurricular fees should not be by voluntary donation. It's not working. Folks look around and see that others are not paying for things so why should they. The same kids line up for "scholarship" AP tests, application waivers and "scholarship" prom/grad night tickets. Unless a way becomes available to test for "need" then everyone should pay or fundraise for their portion of fees. Unless the school district gets a handle on this - our district will continue to have the life sucked out of it. It did NOT use to be this way in Pleasanton. Everyone was involved for the good of all kids ....not just their child. Things have sadly changed.

Posted by nancy s.
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 22, 2012 at 9:17 pm

@fundraise. I did not say it was illegal to fundraise, I said it was illegal for a school (athletic program) to tell parents that it is "required" (i.e.mandaorty) for them to pay for their child to play, in a public school setting. Both high schools in Pleasanton fundraise, one is more successful because they have a more dedicate group of parents and alumni.

Posted by Oy Vey
a resident of Birdland
on May 23, 2012 at 8:32 am

Here is another example of people slamming one group or another. Our school fundraises better than yours...our parents are more dedicated..etc. We need to resolve the problem. I feel that anyone who does sports, band, cheer or anything that requires a "fair share contribution" be required to pay the fee. If you can't cut a check...then fundraise for it. Ask someone to sponsor you. Get the money somehow...don't just ignore it! There should always be scholarship money, but I don't think there should be so many "free rides".
Who may come down to if one school cannot raise the funds for a sport or activity and it gets cut...the other school may suffer the consequences of that as well. After all...if one cannot play then no one should. Ask any group who has had to cancel a trip or activity because of that rule.

Posted by Ken Mano
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on May 23, 2012 at 9:26 am

I was involved with the AV Boosters for many years as Treasurer, we used to have squabbles over money and budgets when the money went into a "pot" and was allocated to the teams when they submitted their budgets... like "why did they get that much money, their parents weren't there helping to earn it"... that all changed when we based all of our major fundraisers on participation by the teams... teams who signed up people for escrip got the earnings allocated to their team budgets, those who sold ads for our sports books got money allocated to their team budgets, those who sold tickets and got auction items had money allocated to their team budgets. We had no more arguments over why one team got more money than another. Teams with money got their uniforms, equipment and transportation paid for, teams that didn't had to pay for their own... either through their own fundraising or parents paid.. This all resulted in team reps and parents working harder and reaping the rewards and a very successful booster program. Lots more money, better equipment, more participation and happier parents... The AV Parents are no better, I think we had a good system that the parents were willing to participate in. We also made the decision to focus on eScrip as a major fundraiser and became the largest eScrip group in the country... that helped a lot, and it happened to be a good choice for us (Thanks to Safeway and eScrip). Sure, it was a lot more bookkeeping and more details to track, but it made a difference in our booster program... and our athletic director, administration and coaches were also a lot happier since they didn't need to focus all their efforts on fundraising, allowing them to focus on the kids. Money is a lot tighter now since the district no longer pays for coaches stipends, and that has put a lot more pressure on the parents for sure... anyhow, my two bits in this contoversy...

Posted by New mom
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 23, 2012 at 2:57 pm

Thoughtful post Ken, thank you.

What would be good is of the two schools 'shared the knowledge' with each other. Why is there a competition? It's not like we have a choice which high school we can go to. Let's work as a community to make ALL our schools strong... it only helps us all in the long run.
When we were looking at houses, we were told "Both high schools are great! You can't go wrong with either one." Isn't that what we want?

Posted by Nancy s
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 23, 2012 at 7:29 pm

@ken and new mom.
Foothill has adopted the AV model and the booster board members are talking between schools. The problem is the funds have dwindled so low at foothill that without major fundraising the sports are in jeopardy. So whether its fundraising or fair share or voluntary contribution, money for sports at foohill needs to be raised. Parents and athletes need to be on board and be willing to give of their money and time for sports to continue. It is unlikely the district would be able to allow one high school in the city to have sports and not the other, so sports could very well be cut across the board.

Posted by volunteer parent
a resident of Foothill High School
on May 23, 2012 at 10:57 pm

as a person who has headed up fundraising efforts for fhs sports, i would have to agree that it seems that the fhs community does not realize the importance of these fundraising efforts. what is surprising is that this apathy is prevalent even amongst the families who have students participating in the sports. not only is it difficult to recruit volunteers, but it is equally difficult to attract the community to attend fundraising events! if this is the attitude then more power to the club sports which seem better organized to be self funding. that being said maybe we should let club sports rule and focus on the academics and cleaning drugs out of high school which should be the priority anyway!

Posted by Lucia Holman, President Foothill Athletic Boosters
a resident of Foothill High School
on May 24, 2012 at 9:44 am

I'd like to thank everyone for their comments. This has been a year of transition in how we go about supporting the athletics program at Foothill. AVHS Booster President Sally Parsons was kind enough to meet with us at the beginning of the school year to share her successful methods and ideas. I continue to benefit from her guidance and thank her for her graciousness in willing to be one community of "Booster Parents". As Ken Mano indicated in his note we have also transitioned to having teams participate at a greater level in fundraising opportunities to build up their team accounts. It has been a gradual process but one that continues to grow. We continue to add fundraising opportunities to allow teams the ability to fundraise through a school/community effort as well as their own individual efforts. We are working with coaches, athletes and their parents to continue their efforts to make their programs successful. REgarding the "voluntary donation" language that continues to be discussed, this is a directive from the legal counsel at the district level. All schools in Pleasanton are to use this language when discussing their programs with parents. This was not a choice made by Foothill alone. Everyone is to use this language. Having said that, we all need to be aware that our property taxes do not go directly to PUSD. They go directly to the State of California who then disburses the money throughout the state. Funding for athletics has dwindled and does not reach our district. Therefore our district has no money to allot to any of the schools. So we must turn to the parents and ask for your assistance. Many parents have expressed that we put our child in a public school and shouldn't have to "pay to play". That concept while true is no longer realistic. Our children gain a great deal from participating in sports. Is every experience wonderful and enlightening?? No. But that's reality and I would rather our kids learn how to deal with that now than as adults incapable of handling rejection or the tought demands of a job. So I ask each of you with a child who plays a sport or is thinking of playing a sport at any level, to support your child's team as much as you can financially. If you can't make the full amount that's suggested then pay what you can. Payment plans can be arranged as well. If you can't pay, ask your coaches how you can help. There are many volunteer opportunities available. If you have fundraising ideas share them and better yet, offer to run them. Offer to drive, hold a dinner for the athletes and their families, take tickets at a game,e tc. I look forward to working with many more of you as we continue to evolve our support of our Pleasanton Schools! Go Falcons and Dons! I truly believe you're the best of the best!

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