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Supporters of 2 Orange District Sports Programs Seek Funds

October 22, 1987|MIKE CORNWELL | Times Staff Writer

Coaches and supporters of two sports programs that have lost funding from the Orange Unified School District are expected to demand that funds be reinstated at tonight's district board meeting in Orange.

In September, the district eliminated funds for boys' and girls' junior varsity tennis and soccer for the 1987-88 school year at its four high schools--Canyon, El Modena, Orange and Villa Park. District officials said the cuts, which would total about $13,000 a year, would help ease the crunch from diminishing state funds to the school district. Still, the overall athletic budget was increased by $112,181 to meet the needs of ninth-graders being added to the high schools.

Critics argue that the decision to eliminate funding for the sports was arbitrary and that the negative impact on the athletes and the varsity programs in those sports far outweighs the money the district is saving.

Representatives of the junior varsity tennis and soccer teams are scheduled to make presentations at the meeting tonight.

Dave Zirkle, the athletic director of Orange High School and of the district, said that Roger Duthoy, the assistant superintendent for secondary schools of the Orange Unified School District, will recommend to the board tonight that it approve partial funding for the sports.

"If we don't fight this tooth and claw, it sets a very poor precedent," said Chuck Rose, girls' tennis coach at Canyon. "They'll just keep taking away from the sports like tennis.

"Football, water polo and volleyball have three teams (freshman, junior varsity, varsity). With just one tennis team, only nine spots, you're just cutting the whole program (by eliminating junior varsity).

"If you're in financial straits, the other sports should sacrifice a little. This is unjustified."

Rose said that 67 girls tried out for junior varsity and varsity tennis at the start of the season, and that the schools are continuing to play their junior varsity schedules despite a lack of funds to pay for balls and the roughly $1,000 stipend usually given to junior varsity coaches. In fact, Rose, a walk-on coach who splits time between his home in Fullerton and San Francisco, where he owns a film company, was not at first aware of the cuts.

"We were three weeks into the season before I was told," he said. "I never received a memo, and my AD (Harper Ephrom, in his first year as athletic director) didn't get one."

Rose said he has asked parents to contribute $50 to help defray the coaching costs if the board will not reverse itself.

"If a parent can't afford it, I will pay it out of my own pocket," Rose said. "The bottom line is the kids are the ones who suffer, and I don't want that to happen."

Zirkle said, "The district feels there are lots of tennis and soccer organizations outside the school that kids could participate in. That's not true of football and basketball. That was part of the criteria for making cuts."

Supporters of soccer, who had heard that the cuts might be coming, began acting last July to keep their eight junior varsity programs afloat. Al Irish, an Orange resident whose three children are active in soccer, helped form a coalition with local youth soccer teams and booster organizations to raise money. The coalition has since met with John Ikerd, superintendent of schools, and has been told that the district would fund 35% of the junior varsity programs (about $3,500) if the supporters would raise the remainder.

Irish said he believes the board will reinstate funding for the junior varsity soccer programs.

Rose said, however, that supporters of tennis are not interested in partial funding.

"That's like throwing us a bone," he said. "It's time we took a firm stand here."

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