The High Costs of Extracurriculars Footed by Parents

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Members of Palisades High School band and color guard participate in competitions.

For many students, participation in an extracurricular activity is the key to succeeding in high school. That activity gives them a group of friends and a purpose that might not come from the classroom.

According to a study in the Education Resources Information Center: “Students who participate in extracurricular activities experience higher levels of academic achievement. These effects have been researched since the early 1930s. Students who participate frequently in extracurricular activities tend to have higher grades, better test scores, and more positive educational experiences in general. For example, participation in extracurricular activities is associated with a 2% increase in math and science test scores. Furthermore, students involved in activities have a 10% increase in their expectations of attaining a college degree, as compared to non-participants.”

The study concludes that students should be encouraged to participate in extracurriculars throughout their school years.

Palisades High School student Chaz Plager, who participates in color guards, wrote that extracurricular program may be dropped because of funding issues.

CTN reached out to PaliHi Band Director Tyler Farrell, who explained the cost of operating a competitive marching band and color guard program.

“We have averaged between $45,000–$50,000 for the marching band seasons over the past three years, and we are hoping to increase our budget for the Fall 2022 season,” Farrell said. “Pali High has traditionally only funded us with instructional materials money, which is largely used for sheet music and instrument repairs.”

Last year the program received $4,000 from PaliHi and that had to be spent on instructional materials.

The band director explained “The marching band relies heavily on financial support from our member’s families through donations, and fundraising efforts to cover the costs of show design, travel to competitions, entry fees, equipment and instruments, and the educational team that works with the students at each rehearsal.

“We brought in close to $20,000 in donations from families; $15,000 from a group-wide fundraiser; and about $8,500 from the PCHS Booster Club,” Farrell said and explained that the color guard is a year-round group that performs with the marching band in the fall but has its own competitions in the spring and is called the winter guard.

The cost of the color guard program is absorbed in the band program in the fall, but in the spring, students who participate in winter guards must raise $15,000 to keep the program intact. Currently about $1,500 has been raised.

“Right now, we are having to make sacrifices in other aspects of the program to cover the costs of the winter guard for the second time in my three-year tenure at Pali High,” Farrell said. “We have tasked the students and families to help us generate fundraising ideas that they would be willing to participate in and have not had much luck. As much as I want to see our winter guard program continue and thrive, it is just becoming unsustainable in its current state.”

Farrell said that one of the largest expenses is the educational coaches and design team that are hired. “I will add that one positive for next year is the hope that our travel to competitions/performances will be picked up by the school’s transportation budget,” he said. “This is something I’ve been fighting for about two years now, and finally looks like we will have some progress, we may have some of our travel covered next year.”

Traditionally, PaliHi has paid for the transportation costs for athletic teams to regular season games. For 2021-22, about $100,000 was paid for buses.

For the coming year, the name would be changed from athletic buses to competition buses, which would allow some transportation funding to go to band.

At the April 19 PaliHi Board of Trustees meeting, the transportation proposal was initially rejected. The subject was revisited at an April 28 meeting and passed.

The proposal, which sustains the current busing program, will also expand the competition buses – which will help the band.

The Pacific Palisades marching band marches in the annual 4th of July parade.

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