This special fund was started three years ago when EGUSD cut funding for athletics from around $2.4 to about $1.6 million. There's nine high schools that must get their fair share of that pie.
Last week I attended a meeting led by EGUSD athletic director Jim Smrekar to ask parents of spring sports to contribute to the VAC for the good of sports in Elk Grove.
I have written quite a few stories for the Citizen over the past three years about this fund and why it came into existence. Frankly, I didn't think it was necessary for the schools, like Elk Grove, that was already established in its athletics and the associated booster clubs. I saw it as a way to help fund the sports at the schools that serve the lower socioeconomic communities.
In other words, not necessary for parents of players at EGHS, Franklin or Pleasant Grove to pay attention to. We have our booster clubs in place and work quite hard to raise- in some years- more than $100,000 for our teams.
When I saw the numbers out on the open Monday, I had a bit of a paradigm switch. Here, briefly is what was presented:
In 2006-07, the school district's budget for athletics was $2.8 million. This season it's $1.5 million. Last school year it was around $1.44 million.
From that $1million goes to coaches' salaries (about $2,000 - $3,100 per coach per sport).
The rest of the money pays for transportation costs ($15,000 per school for the entire school year - that's why we have to carpool) and for officials/umpires ($45,000). Last year EGUSD paid $110,000 for refs/umps and used money earned from VAC funds to cover the difference. Because of the VAC they were able to raise the athletic department budget by $100,000 for this school year.
Right now each school earns $108 per athlete from the District. Last year that was about $95, thanks to the VAC.
This is one reason why it's important we all consider donating something to the VAC. Yes, 50% is returned to our son's sports programs.
Thus far this school year EGHS has donated $3,770 to the VAC. By comparison, Pleasant Grove has donated $14,900, Franklin about $12,300.
This surprised me -- Valley has donated $3,300 to the VAC. District athletic director Jim Smrekar says every participant in Valley's winter sports donated something, 100% participation. Monterey Trail has 54% participation.
If we look at the big picture, we need stronger conference opponents. Our boys are better ball players because of quality competition. A better funded athletic department at other EGUSD schools goes a long way towards helping us our local school.
Consider donating something to the VAC.