Pikeland School District looks to donors to cover part of athletics budget

Posted: Apr. 23, 2013 10:03 am Updated: May. 14, 2013 1:15 pm

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

PITTSFIELD, Ill. -- Pittsfield High School Athletic Director Don Bigley has added one big item to his supply list.

The district's sports teams need to raise $45,000 to maintain existing programs for the 2013-14 school year.

The Pikeland School Board asked the teams to cover part of costs as the budget tightens due to delayed state payments.

"As much as I love athletics, it is extracurricular. It's not the same thing as math class or English class," Bigley said. "Our board wants to be able to maintain what we have and offer as much as we can to our students. Unfortunately, to do this, we're going to have to raise some money to offset the cost of it."

Superintendent Paula Hawley said the $45,000 represents about 25 percent of the overall athletic budget.

"It's about the same as what it costs us in transportation costs to get everyone to all those events, and in a way, it kind of fixes that little piece of transportation we don't get reimbursed," she said.

Plans call for the teams to work on six major fundraisers.

"Counting junior high, we offer about 21 different sports. It's much easier and much better for our community and our businesses if we have one group doing this instead of 21 teams trying to raise anywhere from $2,000 to $8,000," Bigley said. "This will be the only fundraising done by these athletic teams."

The fundraisers include the return of a raffle with a $10,000 first prize developed for the 2005-06 year, the last time Pikeland sports were asked to self-fund due to a budget crunch.

That time, the School Board initially cut sports, then allowed them to return with a pledge to self-fund. Teams worked together to raise $45,000 in the 2005-06 year, then $35,000 the next two years and $25,000 in the fourth year before the financial picture improved and teams went back to individual smaller fundraisers.

The raffle with its 16 prizes of at least $500 proved to be a good fundraiser then. Bigley said tickets will be $20 each, and all athletes are expected to sell at least five, or pay a $100 participation fee.

"I've heard some districts are going to participation fees. Some districts have talked about raising admission fees. Some districts have talked about not providing transportation to the athletic events (and making) parents be responsible," Bigley said.

Hawley expects the joint fundraising approach will continue, even if the need for self-funding does not.

Bigley said the move protects lower level programs, often the first cut.

"Just the number of kids that keep their grades up because they want to participate in extracurriculars. The life lessons that you learn in athletics and other extracurricular activities, things as simple as learning how to allocate time," Bigley said. "I'd hate very much for us to lose anything we're able to offer right now."