Funding Feuds Forge Frustration


Greta Reich, Staff Reporter

Extracurriculars that schools provide are a great way for students to express themselves in a comfortable and safe environment, whether it’s artistically or athletically. However, these can go from fun and educative, to boring and unproductive if they don’t get the necessary funding to stay stimulating.

In all of high school history, sports have always been the most funded and given the most attention while the arts have been severely underfunded and ignored. In our district, the sports teams have a yearly budget of $60,000. The arts programs get differing amounts of money depending on how the principal of the school decides to split it up, but their minimum is just less than $35,000, plus donations. The difference can be justified by the fact that there are a plethora of sports teams that run year round and need new equipment each year, while there are fewer art classes which don’t cost nearly as much.

Parents are also a key factor. Their donations help fund sports greatly, but not as many donate to the arts as frequently.

“There are certainly a much larger number of stipends for athletic coaches than there are for [arts teachers]. But it’s apples and oranges because there’s only a couple plays, whereas there are more than 40 sports teams” athletics director Melissa Schmidt said.

The sports budget pays for things like equipment, uniforms, buses, substitutes, training and more. Each team also gets additional donations from various sponsorships and parents, overseen by the Boosters. The eight visual and performing arts classes get $20,000 from the foundation. The material budget for arts, however, is $13,000, which they get from the district and split between 29 classes. That includes Dance, IB Art, Ceramics I and II, Theater, Band, etc.

“The $13,000 has been consistently the same for a very long time, even though we’ve added more sections,” art department chair Christle Waters said. “There should be a change there.”

Waters, though new to being the art department chair, knows plenty about the past of the Sequoia art program. Their yearly budget has not been increased even though prices for materials are going up and we’ve gained more art classes. Waters does believe that the arts program is able to advocate for themselves when it comes to money, but it can be difficult to do sowhen there are so many other programs that are trying to do the same, especially if some of those are more popular than others. Some may think that these “popular activities” getting more than the others include all sports teams, but sophomore cross country and track runner Ethan McKillop disagrees.

“If [students] did get the option to [ask the school board for certain amounts of money], kids could argue that certain stuff gets paid more than others, or stuff just doesn’t get paid at all,” McKillop said. “Stuff could be prioritized when stuff needs to be prioritized”

Even within the sports program, some activities seem to be getting more than others. This inequality can be frustrating to the students on those teams because it could seem as though they are not as important as students in the more largely funded sports. For students in the arts program however, all the sports teams would seem largely funded compared to them.

“If [the arts budget] is between visual and performing arts, then there’s art classes, there’s three different instrument classes, there’s band, orchestra, choir, and then on top of that there’s a drama program that puts on four to five shows a year. If you put that in comparison to the amount of money sports gets to buy materials, [the arts] should get the amount of money [they] need to buy [their] materials because right now [they] get just enough to fulfill those programs” sophomore Roxie Dobrer said.

Dobrer already had doubts about whether or not the funding was fair, but hearing the large difference in budgets gave her the proof she needed to express her feelings of unfairness without doubt. Not everyone feels this way however. Varsity football coach Rob Poulos shares feelings of limited funding with Dobrer, but while she thinks the arts need more, Poulos is all for sports.

“Football, track, baseball, etc, none of them get a budget. Their budget is $0. As it stands right now, we have to fundraise or we have to ask the Boosters for things like footballs or baseballs or lacrosse balls or soccer balls. There is nothing in the budget coming from the district to cover those costs” Coach Poulos said.

As stated before, sports do have a budget, it just doesn’t come from the district. They get money from the Boosters, donations, gate money, and from the school to pay for uniforms, buses, equipment and other similar needs. However, all the money comes through either the Boosters or ASB, so the teams don’t have direct access to it. Like any good teacher or coach, Poulos wants to be able to pay for the finest equipment and materials for his athletes. The fact that he has to ask for money from others every time he needs something new is naturally frustrating.

The students here at Sequoia are lucky enough to have a wide variety of extracurriculars and electives that allow them to express themselves in most any way they want. Talented artists can take IB art if they want to learn more about it. Growing athletes can try out their skills in most any sport to find the one that fits. Aspiring performers can show off their craft with acting, singing, dancing and more. There is near endless possibilities for kids to take a shot at and, although it is true that the funding is not perfect, the arts and sports are still a wonderful outlet for the passion and energy in students everywhere.