School sports program faces critical deadline


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The United Mt. Diablo Athletic Foundation held a meeting at Pleasant Hill's College Park High School Monday night.

Some parents in Pleasant Hill are having a hard time believing these programs could be cut. They knew they had to raise $1.2 million by October 1 to save the district's 13 sports programs, but it was announced on Monday night they have only raised about $400,000.

The president of the United Mt. Diablo Athletic Foundation, Pat Middendorf, said most parents believe that it'll never happen and that's why she thinks many of them aren't stepping up to the plate.

Football kicked off this season only because the fall sports teams convinced the school district they could raise the money needed to support themselves, but they did not.

The frustration of possibly loosing sports in the district boiled over at Monday night's meeting.

"Some of you are just coming to the party now..." said Middendorf.

The athletic foundation says it needs to come up with about $800,000, but first it has to convince the school board, at a meeting on October 27, that its fall teams can deliver.

Student athletes agreed to pay fees from $50 to $300 each, plus a $100 transportation fee. However, Concord High's football team has only collected 16 percent of its commitment, Concord girls' tennis and Mt. Diablo High girls' volleyball teams collected nothing, and Ygnacio Valley girls' water polo collected only 13 percent.

The fees came after the school board voted last spring to cut all funding to athletics to help close a $44 million budget gap.

"You know how many athletes we have in the school district? About 4,000. How many people do you think are in the room right now?" said Middendorf.

Only about 150 parents showed up at this crucial meeting.

"Overall we need to raise the money, the district is committed to doing everything it can to assist. Bottom line the state of California's budget has hit us extremely hard, harder than other districts," said school board member Paul Strange. "We know [sports] keeps students in school. We know it gives them an outlet for their activities."

About 3,000 students at six high schools play sports in the Mt. Diablo District.

"I definitely think there would be a lot of kids that wouldn't even show up to school and there's a lot that, even they did, they wouldn't even apply themselves," said senior football player Vince Buhagiar from Clayton Valley High School.

Senior athlete Kelsey Rudd worries after the fall volleyball season ends, her high school career could be over.

"It's a really big part of our school and it's really just hard to think of it, that I wouldn't be playing basketball next season," said Rudd, a Clayton High School athlete.

On October 27, the school board will decide if it should kill its entire athletic program, beginning with winter sports like basketball, wrestling and soccer.

The athletic foundation is hoping a 5-K run on October 18th, will show the board that it has the support to continue raising funds.

LINK: United Mt. Diablo Athletic Foundation

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