Sacramento City Unified School District officials are scrambling to get the word out: Sports, choir, cheerleading, drama and other extracurricular activities are back on for next school year.
The district initially cut $1.2 million from the programs to balance its "worst-case" budget in March, despite fears families would leave Sacramento City schools. The "worst-case" projections have not materialized, thanks to California's income tax revenue spike that has analysts now saying funding will remain flat for K-12 education in the 2011-2012 school year.
"There is still a great deal of uncertainty," said Sacramento City Unified Superintendent Jonathan Raymond.
However, district leaders say they will offer sports and clubs in any case, thanks to a new partnership with the Sacramento River Cats. Whether sports and clubs were ever really on the table is debatable.
Raymond has acknowledged he put the popular extracurriculars on the chopping block, in part, to create a public outcry about education cuts. At the time Raymond was lobbying for tax extensions.
None of that matters to McClatchy High baseball player Jared James. The 17-year-old junior said he would have considered going to another school if athletics weren't offered at McClatchy.
"I was worried," James said. "Sports, for me, are very important ... . Sports can motivate people. If you take it out, there would probably be some form of drop in academics or conduct at schools."
The partnership between Sacramento City Unified and the River Cats will officially launch today with an on-field, pregame ceremony at Raley Field prior to the River Cats game against the Salt Lake Bees at 12:05 p.m.
The Triple-A baseball team will offer a summer-long fundraising effort, which will include some form of ticket revenue promotion.
River Cats President Alan Ledford said the organization will ask its corporate partners for assistance.
Ledford said it's too early to know how much money will be raised for the school district. Most of the details have yet to be ironed out.
Sacramento City Unified spokesman Gabe Ross, a former River Cats spokesman, said the district needed to get the word out early so families did not transfer out of district schools.
"That's why we are announcing this before having all the details," Ross said.
The reinstatement of athletics and extracurricular activities is pending school board approval Thursday. Ross said the River Cats fundraising partnership gives school officials a backup plan if current financial projections don't pan out.
"The best-case scenario is the May revise does indeed provide us with flat funding and in that case this money will supplement and enhance programs," Ross said. "If it doesn't, it allows us to bridge the gap."