Prop. 100's passing keeps some high school athletics programs in the game - East Valley Tribune: VarsityXtra

Prop. 100's passing keeps some high school athletics programs in the game

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Posted: Thursday, May 20, 2010 4:30 pm

In our bigger-is-better world, maintaining the status quo never seems particularly enticing.

But for those in academia around the East Valley, it’s a huge sigh of relief.

The passing of Proposition 100 will likely allocate more than $1.8 billion to state education in the next three years.

For high school athletics, it is a welcome and much-needed boost.

It won’t mean shiny new uniforms or other superfluous benefits, but should help districts from enacting drastic measures to meet their budgets.

To wit:

• Several schools were facing the prospect of cutting smaller sports that didn’t generate much revenue, because the costs to run them were too substantial. However, with the monetary windfall, it is unlikely any East Valley school will go through with this measure.

• At Apache Junction, football coach Rich Milligan worried about the viability of keeping his offensive coordinator on staff. Dave Aoyagi had been at the school only one year, and he was on an initial list of teachers that could have been let go if Proposition 100 did not pass.

On Thursday morning, Milligan received an e-mail confirming that Aoyagi would have a teaching position. Milligan didn’t know how much Proposition 100 came into play, “but it couldn’t have hurt. I had a big smile on my face when I saw the e-mail,” Milligan said, “because you never know until you see it in writing.”

• In the Gilbert school district, the participation fee of $100 per sport will remain the same. There was a budget proposal that would have increased that fee 30 percent if the proposition did not pass. Furthermore, anyone that currently earns a stipend for an extracurricular activity will not face a pay cut, as opposed to the 10-percent reduction that was proposed.

“It was getting scary,” Gilbert district A.D. Mark Cisterna said. “We had a collective group to see what we could do or maintain and were looking at drastic cuts.

“It was huge,” he said of the proposition passing. “It’s going to help a whole lot.”

• After being one of the last holdouts in the Valley, the Mesa district is considering adopting pay-for-play. It was part of a budgetary “study session” on Thursday night. The school board could offer its budgetary recommendations followed by a vote next week.

Had Proposition 100 failed, Mesa district athletic director Steve Hogen said the proposed fee would have jumped from $100 to $150 per student, per sport.

“We weren’t looking to cut sports, but (Proposition 100) negates having to in the foreseeable future,” he said.

Those are some of the “knowns,” but all sides acknowledged a wait-and-see approach is still prudent.

The Scottsdale district, for example, appears to have an outline of its budgets going forward. Desert Mountain athletic director Steve Harris was optimistic and said that Scottsdale superintendent Gary Catalini “is very pro-athletics.”

But Harris didn’t know what was in store. The Scottsdale schools’ athletic directors were planning on meeting with district A.D. Clif McKenzie on Thursday, but whether Proposition 100 and its implications, or finalized budgets were discussed, wasn’t immediately known.

In Gilbert, Cisterna hasn’t yet seen a finalized budget, which means the Gilbert school athletic directors haven’t.

Coaching stipends could still drop in some places. Available teaching positions for current or prospective coaches (such as Higley looking for baseball and girls volleyball coaches, Campo Verde with cross country, track and soccer, or A.J. needing a basketball and baseball coach) may be limited or not exist. Participation fees may still increase.

In other words, the exhale of relief from Proposition 100’s passing was widespread, but many still have to navigate the jungle of dollars and sense.

“More with less is the time we’re living in,” Desert Ridge athletic director Darrell Stangle said. “Days of budgets expanding are over for some time. That shock came last year, and now it’s dealing with it. We don’t make excuses and do what we have to do to make it happen. We’ll make it through, like we always do.”

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