Behind the Budget of Your Favorite School Teams

by Brianna Baldwin and Kaitlyn Keith

High School Activities are a beloved part of a student’s life, but the management to keep these sports and activities upheld can be hard to keep in order. There is a limited amount of money available for VHSL sports  and activities here at James River, making the funding possibly strained. Certain teams require more money, some teams require money now, and others can wait. When asked about the number of VHSL teams at James River High School, there are “22 teams, including activities”, according to Tim Jennings, the school’s athletic director. During an interview with Mr. Jennings, he was asked a series of questions about the funding for the school’s athletics and activities. It was made clear that a majority of the funding is on a need-based system. This is a long way from the misunderstanding that many have when it comes to how funding is provided to each VHSL sport and activity. In fact, many believe that funding for sports and activities depends on how well the team is doing. This would be measured by victories, losses, number of audience members, etc. This is not the case as each team’s funding changes from year to year. Although there are many expenses that each team expects each year, such as fixing broken equipment, buying new uniforms to replace ruined ones, and other such necessities, there are unexpected expenses that come to the forefront each season. An example of this would be a new full set of uniforms for an entire team. As said before, funding can be strained, so how can teams buy things that they need and want when the school funding is running low or used entirely for the year? Fundraising! Fundraising is another big part of gaining funding for sports and activities. “All fundraisings just need to be approved through me and the school board, just needs to keep the fundraising current, so people will buy them,” Mr. Jennings said.

When thinking about funding for a team, many think about physical items used in the sport or activity, but many do not think about transportation. Each VHSL sport and activity typically have at least one competition per year. Some of these competitions or games happen at home, JRHS, while others happen at other schools, which means our teams have to travel. One example of this is the football team. During this past season, the football team had five home games and five away games, according to Daniel Holter. Daniel is a senior at James River High School. The team did not have to drive themselves to any of the five away games as they had a bus provided by the school. As Tim Jennings said in the same interview mentioned above, “If they travel, they recieve some school funding.” This means that the few teams that do not receive school funding for equipment, such as Drama, still are considered to be receiving school funding for the bus used to take the team to any away competitions.

Certain sport and activity teams have a hard time fundraising and getting school money, which can make them feel less important. Some teams have almost no funding, for example Drama. Unlike football, the Drama team is unable to sell tickets. This can cause a great strain on the budget for the team. “Drama has never had a budget,” said Sharon Keith, Drama director and a teacher at James River. Luckily, with the help of parents and Attic Productions, the team is able to put on captivating shows year after year. Putting on these plays can be quite more expensive than people think. “Scripts are ten dollars each plus a fifty to seventy-five dollar fee per performance,” she continued. This isn’t including costumes, props, and other necessities that can cost anywhere in the range of “500 to 800 dollars,” per semester. While some plays have copyright preventing the team from selling tickets, VHSL and James River school rules do not allow the team to sell tickets at any performance. This means that the team relies solely on donations by audience members, parents, and the rest is purely out of the director’s pocket. Typically, the Drama team has two home performances, One Act and Spring, where they accept donations. These performances are not always allowed. One example is last semester: the team was forced to change performance dates multiple times as well as cancel one performance. This was because the majority of the team is in the school band and were required to be at the football game that was rescheduled to the same day as the drama performance.

While funding may be need-based, not all teams and activities are created equal. Some receive more funding than others and some are even pushed below others. Sometimes, underfunding is understandable but when it effects outside funding and student/teacher’s lives, it is unfair and unwelcome.