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San Juan School District's athletic budget restored

Down by $800,000 at the half, the San Juan Island School Board last week disclosed that by the end of the third quarter, they had nearly made a comeback, closing on their opponent — a nearly 10 percent budget shortfall — to less than $100,000.

With three months to go, the $100,000 in cuts, which would have eliminated the entire athletic budget, has been averted thanks to an overwhelming and committed team effort and a spectacular end-of-the-quarter play by Islanders Bank, who came up with the last $5,400 to restore the high school’s athletic program to last year’s funding levels.

With one quarter to go — three months — and considerable momentum displayed by the home team, there is great confidence on the part of district officials that the shortfall can be averted by the final whistle.

Either way, given budget realities both in this and coming years, this contest — for no one really can call it a game — is headed into a prolonged overtime. For years to come.

Good news and sports metaphors aside, the stakes are quite serious for the Eagles, Tigers and Wolverines. Despite the fact that more than 440 islanders have raised about $210,000, another $90,000 is still needed by Sept. 30 to take full advantage of the challenge gift put forward by the San Juan Island Community Foundation.

“We’re doing great. We got a lot restored,” Superintendent Michael Soltman said Monday.

The stakes if the home team loses? The people that provide one-on-one help for students struggling with reading and math. Special education hours. Playground supervision. The lunch program.

Soltman was impressed by the incredible support the community has shown in the face of the unanticipated shortfall.

“That’s made it possible to take advantage of a sizable portion of the challenge gift.”

He added, “I’m grateful to Purple and Gold for showing how much they care and are

willing to work for our kids.”

A letter posted on the district’s Web site states: “Charles Anderson, President of the Community Foundation, and Paul LeBaron, President of the Schools Foundation, continue to be committed to raising the final $100,000 in matching funds necessary to fully fund programs and services for next year.

“Donations can be made directly to the foundations and all donations are eligible for matching funds.

“Further, the long-range planning task force has had its initial meeting to consider legislative advocacy for full funding of basic education. The task force will work through the summer to develop a long term funding strategy.”

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