IRVINE — Some say the health of high school sports has never been better; others believe it can't get worse. But nearly all agree it's becoming increasingly difficult to raise operating funds.
However, the days of car washes and bake sales might soon be over. Something new is in the works.
The announcement of a super fund--a coalition of fund-raising groups and corporate sponsors to benefit all county school districts--is expected to be made by April, according to Elizabeth Thomas, executive director of the Irvine Educational Foundation, a non-profit fund-raising group supporting schools in the Irvine Unified School District.
"We've been working on this two years," Thomas said. "We'd like one fund so that major employers and marketers who want to reach the entire area can donate to one fund. There would be a general fund to benefit districts on a per-capita basis. But we also intend to have funds for designated purposes like music, science, sports and fine arts."
If such a super fund becomes a reality, Thomas said, a radical shift in the approach to fund-raising will occur.
"In public schools, what drives (fund-raising) the most is grass roots, and that starts with the parents who have students playing the sports," Thomas said. "My personal opinion is that, as a county, we need to look at opportunities that are countywide in scope other than just districtwide.
"Most area employees and residents have kids going to schools all over Orange County. Marketers trying to reach us see Orange County as one geographical area. To encourage them, we need to look at Orange County that way too."