Even before a pandemic and shelter-in-place orders took a toll on the economy, the Cabrillo Unified School District was already facing sweeping budget cuts for the next school year. This includes Half Moon Bay High School’s athletics department.

Administrators were planning a $55,000 reduction to the athletics budget for the 2020-21 school year — a 25 percent reduction. Typically, the district’s money pays for the league fees and coaching stipends, which range from $1,200 to $3,750 per coach for coaches who receive stipends.

The shelter-in-place orders related to preventing the spread of COVID-19 have severely impacted Coastside businesses, including many that raise money for or sponsor Half Moon Bay High School Boosters Athletics Corp. As a result of the perfect storm, the Boosters and high school administration may have to revise the budget for next year’s sports, if there are even sports to be played.

Last year, Half Moon Bay High School athletics received $220,000 from the CUSD. Before Parcel Tax Measure I passed in November, the athletics department was facing a 50 percent cut in funding from the district. When the measure passed, half of that money was to be restored. Budget constraints affected Cunha Intermediate School as well, resulting in $650,000 in total savings for the district.

“This is primarily composed of coaches’ stipends,” Athletic Director Brendan Roth said of the cuts. “The district will still be contributing toward Half Moon Bay High School athletics, but the individuals charged with balancing the books felt this was the best move for the whole of the district.”

More than half of the district’s contribution — $73,000 according to Roth — will go to coaching stipends. Other costs include facility maintenance and the salary of the school’s athletic trainer, Taylor Leidheisl, which is split between the Boosters and the district.

Half Moon Bay High School Principal John Nazar has been a supporter of athletics on the Coastside long before he watched Cougar games and tournaments from the field.

“Anytime there’s reduced funding, it does create challenges,” Nazar said. “It’s impactful. It’s not easy.”

Supporters hope they can keep current teams going without significant changes.

“We have to look at how we can continue the programs that we are currently doing, with the reduction in cost,” Nazar said. “Over the course of the next few weeks, that is going to be one of the primary jobs we’re going to be doing.”

Both Nazar and Roth are quick to acknowledge and appreciate the support of the Boosters and its major contributions to the high school’s athletic department over the years. The money raised from the Boosters goes to a multitude of sporting goods, from banners in the gym to gear and uniforms for nearly every team. But many of the Boosters’ biggest fundraisers, including the Golf Classic and Black and Orange Ball, are in-person events.

“Can we expect them to now make up an additional $55,000?” Nazar pondered. “I have to say, honestly, that’s going to be pretty challenging, especially in these times.”

Funding for Cunha’s sports programs was withdrawn entirely as the district implemented sweeping measures to balance its budget deficit. Cunha’s teams will be kept afloat with assistance from the Boys and Girls Club of the Coastside. Though Cougar athletics aren’t likely to go under, school administration and the Boosters are expected to make adjustments soon.

Though online fundraisers are important to the Boosters, the board is looking in another direction to make up funds. Angela Bye, currently the vice president of the Boosters who will be taking over the role of president in a few months, said that asking local businesses that are now strained by the coronavirus isn’t a long-term solution.

Bye said the Boosters will apply for grants, both from public and private entities. The group will also consider adding a board member to assist with grant writing. Without in-person fundraisers, Boosters officials worry they could fall tens of thousands of dollars short.

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