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A cut that might lead to worse

Posted: February 15, 2009 1:19 a.m.
Updated: February 15, 2009 4:55 a.m.
A friend of mine made the comment to me after reading a story in Saturday’s sports section about the budget crunch having an effect on preps sports in the Santa Clarita Valley.

He said Donna Lee, the head coach of the two-time defending CIF-Southern Section Division I champion Valencia Vikings, came off as whiny.

I told him he misunderstood.

Lee said she was “outraged” when she first heard the Hart district would no longer pay for substitute teachers for coaches who taught at schools where they where they miss class time due to travel.

This issue affects not only Lee and softball, but just about every prep sports team in the Santa Clarita Valley that seeks to improve itself.

The Signal learned late Thursday night that coaches who teach at their respective schools and would have to miss class because of travel would not get paid for that day of school.

Valencia High School Principal Paul A. Priesz provided some clarity.

He said the William S. Hart Union High School District will no longer pay for substitutes for when these coaches have to miss class. Instead, the schools do.

Because of California’s budget crisis and the proposed cuts to education, it’s understood there will be less money to throw around.

With diminished funds at every school, that will mean less money to pay for substitutes for these coaches.

Priesz said he will try to find a way to handle it, but it is bound to have its effects.

Just how much money does each respective school has?

We know it’s not much.

Associated Student Body money is down, said Sue Guthrie, chief financial officer for the Hart district.

And the district may have to make $34.5 million in cuts over the next two years.

With that being said, without fundraising, there will most certainly be less money for each athletic program.

Sure, at this point, much of this is speculation because we haven’t received the official word from the district, but if the issue is as true as it seems, then sports programs will also have to make major sacrifices during these rough economic times.

If schools have to pay for subs while coaches leave, you might deduce some coaches would be encouraged not to travel as far for competitions.

Yet many programs do travel far to find better competition to not only prepare their teams for postseason play, but to improve their teams’ reputations which believe it or not, attracts people to the Santa Clarita Valley.

Valencia carries a lot of weight in softball, based off past success. Throw in Canyon and Saugus for football, Hart for baseball, Saugus in cross country, Valencia in volleyball and so on.

A win against these teams, whether they’re down or up, is a feather in any team’s cap.

Sometimes, local teams have to travel far to find better competition.

In Lee’s case, she schedules one of the nation’s premier annual softball tournaments in Bullhead City, Ariz.

She may miss some class time.

But her goal is to raise the notoriety of her team and Valencia High School, which in turn draws better athletes to the area. It also has helped given the Santa Clarita Valley a reputation as one of the best areas for prep sports in the United States.

Lee scheduled the Bullhead City tournament in 2007, a year her team was selected as the national champions.

So in her mind, if missing class costs her missed pay especially while she is still working, of course she would be angry.

Especially considering what she makes for coaching.

Though coaches don’t publicize how much their coaching stipend is, from talks over the years with some of them, the average seems to be in the lower four-digit range.

So for the hours they put in, they’re not getting much.

In turn, their teams may have to sacrifice.

Travel may have to be cut down.

Let’s just hope it doesn’t cut this area’s sports reputation.

Cary Osborne is The Signal’s sports editor. He can be reached at His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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