Elk Grove Unified’s graduation bill nearly doubled to $195,293 this year after the school district moved its ceremonies from Sleep Train Arena to the Golden 1 Center.
In April, the school board approved moving commencement for its nine high schools to the new downtown Sacramento arena on May 22-24, although district officials at the time didn’t say what it would cost.
The contract between Golden 1 Center and the district called for a $70,000 license fee and “additional fees.” The district didn’t have an estimate of final costs before the contract was approved, saying the price would come out in the final bill.
The bill issued July 5 included $109,000 for staffing that had not been charged at Sleep Train Arena. The district for several years held its graduation ceremonies at the Natomas arena that closed in December.
Xanthi Pinkerton, Elk Grove Unified spokesman, said that cost was “anticipated” because the district couldn’t pay for staffing through parking fees like it did at Sleep Train Arena. Most people who attended events at Sleep Train Arena had to park in stadium lots, while that isn’t the case near Golden 1 Center, where city parking lots and public transit are available.
Elk Grove Unified, the region’s largest school district, is the only K-12 district so far that has held high school ceremonies at the new Golden 1 Center. Many high schools use Memorial Auditorium or their own campuses.
Pinkerton said “a majority of the folks said it was an awesome experience.” She added that the visuals on Golden 1 Center’s large screen allowed everyone to see what was happening on stage.
The additional $98,667 spent by Elk Grove Unified to use the Golden 1 Center was covered by increasing the price for extra tickets from $7 to $10, Pinkerton said. Each of the 4,067 graduates was still allotted the traditional six free tickets, according to district officials.
While Pinkerton said the added costs were anticipated, board member Nancy Chaires Espinoza said after the April vote she was unaware the district would face costs beyond the $70,000 license fee.
Espinoza said she didn’t want to end up in the same situation as Sacramento State, which faced much higher graduation costs this year after moving its ceremonies to Golden 1 Center.
She and other board members did not return phone calls Tuesday.
Sacramento State greatly increased the cost of its graduation when it moved its six graduation ceremonies to the Golden 1 Center May 19-20. The final bill, which would have been more than $200,000, was reduced to $151,643 after the city of Sacramento donated three of its free days to hold civic events at Golden 1 Center.
Last year, the university paid $59,842 to have commencement ceremonies at Sleep Train Arena.
The total cost of graduation is not clear as the district is still calculating additional graduation costs not part of the Golden 1 Center contract, according to Pinkerton.
Traditionally, ticket money has covered the cost of graduation, with a portion returned to the schools, according to the district. The balance of graduation costs has been paid from the district’s general fund and school contributions.