Panther Valley Water Polo serves the Santa Maria metropolitan area. Living here has advantages but it also has handicaps. Our youth are challenged daily to find activities and associations that are safe, wholesome and free from drugs. Water Polo gives kids a chance to be in a positive environment surrounded by a healthy family away from the dangers of gangs and other destructive groups. In a normal year it is difficult at best to find funding resources.
COVID-19 restrictions have negatively impacted our kids, our programs and our community. As a result of COVID-19 the players have not been able to fundraise to cover their costs to participate, as they normally would have. This combined with mandated school budget reductions and the distressed economic conditions has created a severe financial shortage and unanticipated burden on our water polo program as well as youth sports in general.
This year the school district has announced mandated program budget cuts could be as high as 30%, with the minimum cut of 15% that will put a huge dent in our athletic team budget. When we do get to eventually play this fall, we will be far behind in our normal fundraising and the players are going to have to come up with the short fall in record time. When you look at the economics of the Santa Maria metropolitan area you can see that having the players pay 100% of this cost out of pocket is going to be big ask. When you join and become a regular follower of the team we can purchase necessary uniforms, meet transportation and travel costs and other required team activity expenses.
One of the problems we face, is that water sports are extremely expensive to support. Pool time is costly, our uniforms are very expensive; skimpy little water polo caps costs about $40 a piece, (each player needs two of them) and those tiny speedos are also about $45 each for the boys and up to $85 each for the girls. Referees need to be paid; tournament fees are between $500 and $800 for each team to enter. Traveling is expensive too, we often pay $135 a night per room for hotels, even when we squeeze four kids to a room the bill is usually around $800 to $1,000 depending taxes and the number of players traveling.
School district policy requires all sports teams to fund raise to supplement the athletics budget. Usually the players raise enough money by working fundraising activities in the summer and early fall. But this year COVID-19 has severely impacted our high school and youth water polo programs fundraising. We are not allowed to congregate our kids, meet with them in person or otherwise organize our normal fundraising activities. Consequently our ability to direct fundraise through our normal methods, like selling cookie dough or discount cards has been squashed.
The Santa Maria metropolitan area is widely income challenged. The average annual income for a household in Santa Maria is about $56,150. With nearly 4 persons per household the per capita income in those households is merely $14,850 annually.
Annually, our high school student population tops 2700 students residing in more than 700 households. 97% of our students are minority and 73% are economically disadvantaged. More than 45% our households earn less than $50,000.
Financial disadvantage limits many from participating in high school sports, and puts added financial and emotional stress on the families who do participate. Our students put a lot of collective effort in to a success model graduating 95% of our seniors and maintaining a high college readiness index in the top 25%. One quarter of our students take Advanced Placement courses. One half take part in multiple extra-curricular activities. One-third play high school sports. The budget cuts and other revenue losses cannot be made up exclusively by personal payments from the students and their families.
With all the impacts heaped upon our school and our program, we are going to be way behind financially when finally do get the green light to start play this fall. Right now our annual revenue is zero. Usually we have raised about $2,000 by now. Join and follow our water polo family and reduce the financial stress on our kids and their families.
We appreciate your consideration and thank you for you.