A community effort

By Larry Glaze August 04, 2009 01:01 pm
Fundraising to acquire enough money to run sports and activities at La Grande Middle School and La Grande High School for the coming school year is a sign of the challenging economic times we live in. Most of us agree that sports give our youth opportunities to learn things like sacrifice, teamwork, hard physical and mental effort, tenacity and a cooperative yet competitive attitude. All of these are very important qualities for life success.

Many of us would agree that FFA, FBLA, band, choir and theater allow students to develop knowledge and performance skills that enhance self-confidence and contribute to a well-rounded education. These extracurricular activities should be a critical component of a comprehensive high school education in the 21st century.

As you may already know, state funding for schools fell short during the 2008-2009 school year and La Grande School District was required to make significant budget cuts in the middle of the school year. This was not expected and created quite a surprise for the administration, staff and students. The unanticipated shortfall was addressed by freezing all nonessential spending including not ordering classroom supplies, canceling contracted services, eliminating student field trips and travel for teachers and administrators.

The economic downturn worsened with time and in order to balance the 2009-2010 school budget we were required to make about $2.3 million in reductions to school programs. Several teaching positions were cut, as well as two district office administrative positions and several classified positions.

Initially, all middle school and high school sports and activities were cut from the budget. However, through negotiations the La Grande teachers gave up four work days for the 2009-2010 school year, and accepted a freeze in salary and health benefits. This allowed the district to restore an elementary teacher, middle school counselor and salaries for coaches and activity directors. I might add that administrators, classified staff and confidential employees have made the same financial sacrifice as teachers. I must commend our staff for making a sacrifice during tough times so that kids are better served in our schools.

The immediate challenge confronting us is to raise $75,000 in the La Grande community by Sept. 1 to provide transportation and officials for sports and activities for the 2009-2010 school year. The Sept. 1 deadline is imposed so that no sports or activities are left hanging without funding in the later part of the school year.

Two groups are working very hard to meet this goal.

The Tiger Booster Club is raising money through booster memberships. One hundred percent of all membership money goes to support sports and activities. As of this date the Boosters have raised $34,710. If you would like to learn more, renew memberships or to join the Tiger Boosters contact Booster President Mark Goss at 963-4161.

The second group working to raise money for this effort is the LHS activity-athletic fundraising banquet scheduled for Aug. 15 at 6:30 p.m. at the Blue Mountain Conference Center. This is a dinner along with an auction and raffle prizes. Contact Melinda Becker at 663-1391 or Teresa Dowdy at

541-963-2950 for ticket information or to donate auction items.

Please consider joining us in this communitywide effort to ensure that our kids have all the educational opportunities that past generations have enjoyed. The time for getting involved is now.

Larry Glaze is superintendent of the La Grande School District.