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Bill could restore funding cuts for high school sports

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) –

During the state’s belt tightening six years ago the Department of Education’s athletics budget was slashed by 30 percent — about $4 million.

Some of that money was restored but public school sports are still feeling the pinch.

“We believe that it’s in the order, the magnitude, of about $2 million,” state Sen. David Ige said.

Ige thinks those funds can be found in the state’s general fund to pay coaching stipends to about 1,000 assistant coaches who aren’t being paid a penny, and to restore coaching positions at schools that cut them to deal with the deficit.

“We lost a lot of the coaching slots. Maybe you can only pay the head coach and one assistant,” Radford High School principal James Sunday said.

Transportation money was also slashed. Campbell High School’s budget to charter busses for road games is gone by the end of football season, leaving other sports to fend for themselves.

“We put the burden on our communities by asking them, ‘If there’s a time in which we don’t have money to transport our kids, would you guys be able to meet at the site?'” athletic director Sam Delos Reyes said.

There are 43 public high schools with varying numbers of athletic programs, and 2,068 sports teams state wide.

“Whatever cuts were made, it had a big impact on every school. It just meant the school had to fund raise or look for more money each year,” said Raymond Fujino, DOE Athletics Administrator.

Many athletic staffs have been counting on volunteers to help coach. Some schools have had to charge student athletes a small fee pay to play, using the money to help make up some of the shortfall.

Ige said the athletics programs have suffered long enough.

“There seems to be a general agreement that we should restore some funding to athletics,” Ige said. “It’s really just working through the entire budget and seeing how much funds are available.”

Senate Bill 3083 goes for the Senate Education committee on Monday.

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