San Jose school district drops sports

December 12, 2008 12:01:01 AM PST
The budget crisis has caused one school district in the South Bay to take desperate measures. Tonight, they voted to drop all school sports in an effort to make ends meet. It's a plan that's drawing outrage from parents and students.

"Shame on the people that are responsible for even bringing this up tonight. Shame on you. Shame, shame, shame!" said Jeff Borges, the Andrew High School football coach.

Dozens of parents, students, and teachers in San Jose's East Side Union High School District say they're appalled by the district's decision to cut all sports from next year's interim budget.

"Not only are you jeopardizing individual students, you're jeopardizing an entire community," said a parent.

"I think it's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. Without sports, these kids will be on the street," said Jennifer Dickinson, a parent.

But the board says they have no choice.

"We're caught in a legal straight jacket. If we don't act according to the published numbers, the county will come in and force us to do it," said J. Manuel Herrera, with the ESUHSC Board of Trustees.

The numbers they're dealing with are forcing them to cut $11.4 million from the budget, and sports make up $2.1 million. The board is also increasing class size by three students and cutting administration by 18 percent.

"If we had the dollars, we would keep the program. Our real sense is that right now we're talking about sports, but come January and February, we're going to be talking about additional programs that would be eliminated," said Herrera.

"We're not using our imagination and the critical thinking that our school system teaches us," said Sylvistere Farias, an Independence High School alumnus.

The school board is trying to find other ways to fund sports. Thursday night, a representative from the Oakland A's said they would donate a portion of ticket sales to the district.

"We hope we can set a small example for others for the local business community come up with ways that the schools can help themselves," said Jim Leahey, with the Oakland Athletics Sales and Marketing Department.

There is still hope, since this is only an interim budget, but the numbers have to add up for sports to score a piece of the pie.

"We need the dollars to do that and right now the state is not giving those dollars to school districts," said Herrera.

The board will meet again on January 15th, and they're hoping to amend the budget they just passed. Still, without a significant change out of Sacramento and some serious community support, that interim budget may stand.


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