After voters rejected a budget proposal for the Johnstown (N.Y.) School District that would have resulted in a 35 percent tax levy increase, the district faced some hard choices.
Johnstown High School faced the prospect of an academic year without any sports at all — in addition to having to shoulder cuts to electives and extracurriculars, so voters could save what Albany TV Station News 10 reports averaged to a dollar a day per household.
That’s when coaches and booster clubs sprang into action, seeking support from across the region — even from neighboring schools — to help fund sports activities.
News 10 reports that the effort paid off, and that the Johnstown High School athletic department was able to raise just over $300,000 to help keep its athletes on the field.
That effort was truly worthwhile for the girls’ field hockey program, which finished the season 20-1 and advanced to the State Final for the first time in more than two decades.
“When we found out we did have the opportunity, we set the goal high to show the community that it was worth it, and we are worth it,” junior field hockey defender Meghan Mraz told News 10.
The team’s coach, Christine Krempa, was one of the key leaders in the community fundraising effort. Krempa, a Johnstown alumna and former state champion field hockey player, told News 10 that while the potential she saw in her group played a role in her deciding to help raise money, extracurricular activities have an inherent value to students.
“I’m a homeowner here; I’m a small business owner here; I’m a taxpayer,” Krempa told News 10. “I believe in the good of extracurricular sports, music, plays and all of these things for the kids to have to make them a well-rounded human being. So that was the driving force for me to really get involved and help out. It wasn’t just the team. I knew they had potential, and for sure, that was one of the reasons why I stepped up, but all the other reasons are just as important.”
Still, the future of the program remains in peril. News 10 reports that the athletic department should have enough in the coffers to fund sports through the end of the school year, but may be in the same financial boat ahead of next season if voters don’t change their minds.
“Hopefully the people that voted yes remember to come out again next May and remember to vote again and the next May after that to really pull us out of this hole,” Krempa told News 10.