In 1994, Ashland School District passed the “Youth Activities and Academics Levy,” which grants Ashland High School along with all other schools in the district the ability to revoke the traditional “pay-to-play,” giving athletes who generally could not afford to play sports, the ability to do so. Since the Oregon State Athletic Association (OSAA) sports are essentially free, the funding for the programs become the district’s and the levy funds’ responsibility. Over the past few years, the activities levy has brought in roughly $3 million a year.
Each year, the basic funding that is needed for officials, which can range anywhere from $3,000-$6,000 per sport, is covered by the district. In addition, there are more than 40 paid coaching positions, each earning between $2,000 and $4,000 per season. Transportation to and from games and any field or court maintenance is also included in the district’s budget. Any additional funding that teams may need for equipment is issued to the team’s head coaches depending on the cost during the previous season, the cost of equipment required for the upcoming season and the coach’s discretion. This leads to the inherent unequal distribution of funds across the different sports, simply because it costs more to outfit a football player with new equipment then it takes to outfit the entirety of the cross-country team.
Club sport funding operates a little differently. The district and levy money is not responsible for the full funding of the non-profit, school affiliated club sports and only partially funds them by giving $100 per athlete who participated during the prior season to the respective sport. For example, if there were 50 snowboarders on the snowboard team last winter, the team would receive a $5,000 check for the upcoming season. Though this money greatly aids in reducing the cost of club sports, fundraising is still necessary to finish paying for fees.
Another way funding for club sports is obtained, aside from what every athlete pays to play the sport, is through the Booster Club, another non-profit organization affiliated with the school in order to boost school spirit and aid with financial support. The Booster Club gives an additional $75 per athlete whose parent is a “member.” This means that the athlete’s parents pay a $35 member fee and then are allowed to attend Booster Club meetings and are encouraged to help out as much as possible with fundraising and concessions at athletic events. The Booster Club also coordinates large equipment purchases, such as the portable hitting tunnel used by the baseball team, or new goals for soccer.
Since it tends to cost quite a bit to play sports, even if it is just regular OSAA athletics, scholarship opportunities are available to those who are in need of some extra financial assistance. This can help with team fees for club sports or any personal equipment an athlete’s family may not be able to cover. This money comes from the Booster Club and is kept in a separate account that our athletic director, Karl Kemper, oversees. The Booster Club is always looking for student and parent volunteers to work concessions and sell spirit wear at athletic events and is a community service opportunity. Come on down and support your Grizzlies!