16TH STREET — For the past 27 years, the Education Foundation of Santa Monica & Malibu has been one of the school district’s biggest donors, buying new library books, paying for dance instruction and providing academic enrichment grants to teachers.

Now the nonprofit organization is directing its focus outside the classroom.

As the state budget crisis forces districts across the state to make cuts to their athletic programs, the ed foundation is planning on launching a new endowment next year that will help minimize financial impacts to sports teams locally.

“There’s really been a need for quite a while and now seems like as good a time as any to start,” Ted Kahan, who is the chair of the new athletic endowment committee, said. “We’re losing funding throughout the state because of budget cuts for all kinds of programming and this is an important part of education for kids.”

Foundation officials said they are still in the initial planning stages but have already set a fundraising goal of $5 million. The organization set similar ambitions for the arts endowment seven years ago and have so far raised $2 million.

They are also considering making the proposed Santa Monica Half-Marathon the signature fundraising event for the athletic endowment. The foundation will reportedly be the sole beneficiary of the half-marathon.

“We know that it’s ambitious in the economy … but truthfully the need is so great,” Linda Gross, the executive director of the foundation, said.

The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District covers roughly $250,000 for coaching stipends and transportation needs for Santa Monica High School’s athletic department every year. The rest of the operating costs are covered with game ticket sales revenues and fees that student athletes pay annually, which is $95 for one sport or $75 each if they play on multiple teams, Norm Lacy, the athletic director, said.

Ticket sales from football, basketball and volleyball games generated about $50,000 last year, which is less than average because there were only four home football games.

The revenue generated from student fees subsidizes miscellaneous expenditures such as the athletic trainer’s salary, transportation costs in excess of $50,000, police supervision for football games and the school’s dues to the California Interscholastic Federation, which is the governing body for high school sports.

Samohi has more than 1,000 student athletes.

The students are also responsible for covering costs too, including purchasing their spirit packs, which typically includes an equipment bag, practice jersey and uniform. The spirit pack ranges in cost from $65 to $325, depending on the team.

Students who can’t afford a spirit pack usually receive some assistance from the department.

“I have an obligation to those who cannot afford our fees to look for ways that can be done,” he said. “We don’t try to say no to anybody.”

The department is also supported by a small booster club that has paid for items like a set of new banners in the interior north gym. Several teams are also supported by donations from parents.

“Many of our individual teams have outstanding families that work hard at generating (money) for programs,” Lacy said.

New head football coach Travis Clark is well aware of the expenses that come with running a team. In just four months, the team has raised $20,000.

Clark was previously an assistant coach at both Samohi and St. Monica Catholic High School and didn’t deal with budgetary issues until he took on the head coaching job.

He expects that $20,000 will be enough to cover the team for the rest of the season.

“Football is very expensive and there are equipment issues each year,” he said. “There’s just a lot of miscellaneous things … that come along with football.”

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