By Meghan Bobrowsky and Willa Moffatt,
This news feature is the fourth in a series of articles that looks into Davis High’s use of funds. We try to answer the question: Is this the best use of the school’s money? In this edition, we dive into the specifics of the athletic department’s budget.
DHS is home to 60 sports teams; however, each of those teams does not receive an allocated dollar amount from the district, according to Athletic Director Jeff Lorenson.
Instead, the school uses its approximated $70,000—obtained from ASB card sales and collecting money at the entrance at all football, basketball and volleyball games—to finance the hidden costs of the sports. These expenditures include referees, California Interscholastic Federation dues, playoff entry fees and substitutes for teachers who double as coaches.
“There’s a lot of things in a program this size that happen, but people don’t necessarily understand or realize what it takes to support the success of the program outside of putting the students out there with a coach,” Lorenson said.
Prices for officials vary by sport and can cost up to $108 per official for varsity football Section playoffs. Last year, athletics spent $33,541 on officials alone, athletic department secretary Laurie Williams said.
However, the cost can be offset by charging an additional fee at the gate for postseason games. Playoff ticket prices range from $4 for students at home baseball, soccer, softball, track and field and water polo games to $15 for adults at the Wrestling Masters Competition at Stockton Arena.
Athletics is required by the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section to charge a gate at these games and can be fined if they do not comply. Last year’s women’s varsity soccer team opted to pay the $250 fine because it was too difficult to collect a gate on an open field, Lorenson said.
But since women’s and men’s soccer were moved to the winter season this year, charging a gate for all games has become an option as some games are played on the turf field in the Ron and Mary Brown Stadium. However, there is one setback to this plan.
“Our league by law says that if you don’t charge for all of [the games for a particular sport], you can’t charge for any of them because we don’t want to be dialing in, only charging certain teams that we know might have a larger crowd,” Lorenson said.
And since some games are still being played at Yudin Field, charging a gate at all league games is not an option this year.
So how do teams finance their other expenses if not through the district?
Track and field head coach and DHS English teacher Spencer Elliott explains that athletes on the track team—if they are able to—are asked to make a suggested donation of around $185 to the team each year and purchase their own uniforms. This money funds the bus rides to weekday meets, uniforms for team members who cannot afford them and a few of the 12 coaches’ stipends.
In addition, the 200-person team hosts the annual Halden Invitational in mid-April in which they collect a gate from spectators, charge team entry fees from various schools, sell t-shirts and have a concession stand, Elliott said. Last year, the team made almost $10,000 from the track meet.
This sum helped lower last year’s total operational cost of $43,264.18. Elliott planned accordingly for the expenses of prestigious, far-away track meets, and the team account held $553.49 at the close of the season.
The track team nearly breaks even every year, but does not have any extra funds for new equipment to replace worn-out pole vault pits and missing hurdles. This year, a new pole vault pit is needed, which costs around $15,000, Elliott said.
“I’m not sure what to do because I’m not going to ask everyone for $600. What I really want to do is coach, but what I end up doing is running a small business.”
Men’s varsity basketball head coach Dan Gonzalez asks for a suggested donation of $150 from the estimated 15 players each year, but emphasizes that the money is not required to be a part of the team.
The donations cover the uniforms that belong to the team and are loaned out to players, tournament fees, team sweatshirts for the players to keep and the catered end-of-year banquet.
“It’s purely something that parents volunteer. No one is expected to pay a certain amount. Even if they don’t donate, they still get all this stuff,” he said.
Similar to track and field, the basketball team hosts the three-day Les Curry tournament in mid-December every year. This year, the tournament was held Dec. 15-17, included 16 teams and made $3,000 for the basketball program.
The basketball team also receives money from sponsors who pay to have their business advertised on the north wall in the north gym. The ads change depending on the players and parents that are part of the program, Gonzalez said.
“There’s regulars, and some that are new. The sponsor money helps offset [the remaining operational costs],” Gonzalez said.
Lorenson asks each sports team to do one to two fundraisers each season and hopes to find a large scale fundraiser benefitting all teams in the future. He also acknowledges that some teams have an easier time raising money than others.
“If you get 1,000 people showing up to your game, it’s easier to have a spirit sales booth than if there’s only 20 people showing up. I would always encourage our programs to fundraise rather than just ask for money.”
Some assistant coaches are funded through suggested donations while all head coaches are paid for by Measure H, the parcel tax which was passed once again in November. Level I coaches (i.e. varsity football, cross country and varsity tennis) receive $4,298; level II coaches (i.e. varsity swim, varsity golf and varsity lacrosse) receive $2,957 and level III coaches (i.e. football field and junior varsity lacrosse) receive $1,614.
According to Lorenson, the athletic department has ended the school year with a positive balance for the past two years by asking these questions before spending any money: How much does it cost to run an athletic program here? How do we fund it? Are we ending in the red or are we ending in the black?
“That’s our goal: to never end in the red. Obviously if there was a year where all of a sudden there’s a massive amount of either low attendance at games or ASB cards not being sold, it would have a huge effect and there would be areas that we would have to say ‘I’m sorry we can’t fund this,’” Lorenson said.
Is this the best use of school money? The HUB says:
Yes, the athletic department is being responsible by only funding what it can afford; however, the school should make an effort to organize fundraisers for sports teams to lower the cost of the suggested donation that families pay each season, and help in purchasing and repairing sports equipment.