Two parents representing the girl’s golf team at Chatham High School gave a presentation in front of the board of education Monday, requesting district funding for the first time.
Representatives Mark Howard-Johnson and Larry McCann explained that the program’s chief funding sources during the previous two years had been the Chatham Athletic Foundation (CAF), Chatham Athletic Boosters and the parents. The boosters gave $5,000 both years; CAF donated $2,500 the first year and $3,500 the second year; and the parents paid the rest of the annual $12,000 program costs.
McCann said the funding has been very helpful, but it’s “tough to keep going back to the well time after time. ...
“What we asked them before was outside the scope of their charge,” McCann said. “We’re kind of wearing out our welcome on that front.”
McCann explained there are only a few line items that make up the $12,000. The head coach takes up about half the budget. The rest is comprised of transportation costs for tournaments and away matches and $750 to $1,000 in miscellaneous costs.
“Fortunately, most of those costs are fixed,” he said. “Whether there are 15 or 20 kids in the program, the coach would be the same cost, and the transportation would be the same cost.”
In addition to the $12,000 program cost, the fathers explained that parents will continue to pay for a local professional golfer who comes in and trains some of the younger girls who have never played before. McCann explained the team is not charged to golf at the country club, and individuals provide their own equipment.
In addition to a desire to remove some of the funding burdens from the CAF, boosters and parents, Howard-Johnson gave a number of factors why it made sense for the district to consider funding the program in 2013.
In its first two years, the women’s team has finished its seasons 6-4 in 2011 and 5-5 in 2012. One golfer placed in the top third of participants in a state tournament this year, and the team also boasted the second place finisher among six teams in a conference.
McCann said, partially as a result of the success, women’s golf is now considered a varsity sport at the high school.
Both men said they had heard that there is excitement about the program from the younger classes, partially due to the clinics the program has held at the middle school. McCann explained the clinics were partially created to justify funding from the CAF, which typically assists K-8 programs.
In response to Board Member Al Burgunder’s inquiry about the program’s desire to cap the number of participants, MCann said they expect growth “but not astronomical.”
Board President Thomas Belding said the program sounds “just wonderful” and that the funding question will be discussed in committee.
Superintendent Dr. Michael LaSusa said the district has begun to set a precedent in funding athletic programs like this, referencing to both the bowling and fencing teams. In terms of fencing, he said there has been a “gradual assumption of costs.”
“Fencing was almost entirely parent-funded the first year,” LaSusa said. “The second year, the district assumed some of those costs. By year three, the district will assume more costs.”