Hood River Valley High School athletics took a big bite of reality on Wednesday when school officials proposed that six varsity sports be trimmed from the budget for next year.
Just three months after the controversial failure of Measure 28, the Hood River County School District, along with every other district in the state, is looking at ways to make up a colossal shortfall of $2.5 million — and as much as $500 million statewide.
If the district’s budget committee accepts the latest recommendations when it meets in May, the district would save approximately $64,000 next school year by eliminating the cross-country, swimming, golf, tennis, skiing and lacrosse programs.
“These are still proposals, and by no means is this a done deal,” Athletic Director Mitch Sanders said. “We’re just trying to make our best guesses and prepare for the worst.”
HRVHS co-principals Steve Fisk and Martha Capovilla have been tirelessly crunching the numbers alongside Sanders for the past few weeks.
And the stark reality for Oregon schools at this point in time is that every district must make considerable cuts if the state is going to emerge from the current budget crisis.
“We’re hurting right now, and that’s the sad reality,” Sanders said. “This is the second straight year we have had to cut 20 percent of our athletic budget, and you don’t cut that much without some sports going away.
“Any way you look at it, it’s a terrible thing. I wish no sport had to be singled out, but after we looked at all the numbers and talked to the other schools in our league, we realized that we’re actually in a good position compared to some places,” he said.
Sanders also noted that the recommendations made were based on many factors — not just the sports that he, Fisk and Capovilla wanted to eliminate.
First of all, which activities are duplicated in the community through club sports or other high school programs (cross-country vs. track, for example)?
Second, what programs affect the least amount of kids? And third, what programs are easiest to run if you have to fund raise?
Sanders, Fisk and Capovilla examined the potential cuts in a very formulaic manner, and considered a number of other factors before rendering a proposal.
One thing to consider is that some sports, such as football and wrestling, bring in a considerable amount of revenue each year. If those programs were to be eliminated, much of the supply money for other sports would be gone.
Another factor to consider is, which programs are the other schools in the Intermountain Conference going to cut? Sanders said it wouldn’t make sense for HRV to field a team that has no one to compete against.
“It’s important to note that there is no sport that isn’t receiving some kind of cut,” Sanders said. “This is the second time in two years this has happened, and we’re now faced with the fact that things are going to go away.”
Sanders doesn’t expect the final word from the budget committee until the end of May. But in the meantime, all he and the other coaches can do is hope for the best and expect the worst.
“This is just the beginning,” he said. “Oregon schools are in really bad shape, and all the other AD’s are looking at it the same way.”