How It Works


Brian Powers

Sentinel Soccer team

Every teen coming of age movie focuses on some sort of activity, whether it’s jocks against the dreaded rival team, navigating around the status quo of arts vs. athletics, or struggling programs fighting for funding from a tyrannical administrator. While those movies are over-dramatized, and administration generally wants the best for all students, activities do play a big role in the high school experience. The resources they have access to is a determining factor on the outcomes of said experiences. Whether a student participates in basketball, drama, or band, the people they are with, and the experiences they have will go with them for the rest of their lives. As such an important part in developing young adults, it is necessary to get the activities they need for some level of success. Unfortunately there are limited resources to go around, so here are how activities get around monetary barriers. 

In an Interview with Principal Labosky he stated that the schools budget is decided at a state level. Roughly eighty percent of the budget is used to pay for staff salaries as it takes many people and positions to successfully run an educational facility.  The rest of the money is divided among departments. Funds are delegated based on student participation, and decided need. For curricular departments, the science classes for example will have a larger budget than english, because the materials are more expensive. When all is left, there isn’t much to go around. Many activities may require participation fees to cover material costs within the department. Groups also have to do a lot of fundraising in order to cover their costs. Some fundraisers could be selling things like coffee, citrus, candy, poinsettias, Gold Cards, etc. Another common fundraiser is gate fees. In an interview with Mrs. Randall, the bookkeeper, she said this is mainly done by football, basketball and the drama department, but the soccer teams occasionally charge. Football and basketball bring in much of the school’s extra-curricular funds. On average the games make about 1,500 dollars per home game. This money goes into a general fund for activities. The same goes for the money from activity cards. A game costs usually five dollars per person to enter, but an activity card is 25 and permits entrance to all football and basketball home games. This money is all used in a year, but distributed by the decided need.

In an interview with Mrs. Cassidy, the theater teacher at Sentinel, she expressed that the drama club raises all of their budget from ticket sales. The drama department’s budget is split into curricular and extra curricular. Curricular, like band, gets a budget of 3,420 a year. All of the budget for the drama club, or extra curricular drama, is raised from show’s ticket sales. They used to have other fundraisers including the Sadie Hawkins dance. The dance brought in a lot of money, but because of some student behavior the dance was canceled, and eventually replaced with Fireside. This money used to be able to cover material costs, as well as around half of the semi-annual New York trip expenses for students. Part of the budget also comes from donations, namely from Margeret Johnson, the former drama teacher at Sentinel, whom the theater is named after. She wrote a book about teaching theater, and donates the royalty money to the department. After not being able to put on shows for a few years, the department is slowly building up funds. Pre-covid the department would do a musical every other year in the spring, but with the resources available, and staffing changes within the arts department, a musical hasn’t been able to go on since 2019. Thespians and drama enthusiasts are hoping to get back to musicals soon, but it may take a while to get the resources together. 

Administrations at Sentinel
work very hard to
disperse funding to
activities properly.

Every activity has varying needs based on travel necessity, and student participation, which all go into determining funds. Mrs. Thennis, the activities director explained that the football team, for example, plays one game a week during the season, and doesn’t stay overnight when traveling. The basketball team on the other hand, has a couple of games a week, and does stay overnight. This means the bus and hotel costs would be higher for basketball than football, especially since boys and girls teams travel vs. boys only football. The football and basketball teams do charge participation fees, and their budget goes to equipment, coaches, travel, and new uniforms every five or so years. 

 Bands have lower travel costs because they only travel a few times a year for festivals and state pep bands.  The band director Mr. Nelson, in an interview shared that, Like the drama department, the band gets a budget of $3,420 per year for six classes and over 230 participants. Most of the money used for the band comes from participation fees and donations in the booster club (Randall). This money is quickly used for instruments and repairs, percussion equipment, uniform repairs, and coaches. Also similar to drama, the band is a curricular department, but also does extra curricular activities. The main extra curricular activity being pep band. Many schools have separate pep band directors, but Mr. Nelson takes the money for a pep band director and gives it to a coach, while he directs the pep band himself. The difference between band and athletic activities is the class itself requires a fee and the extra curricular portions are not charged for as they are optional participation, separate from the main band entity. In comparison, athletic activities are outside of the school day and require fees for only extra curricular activity, as it is purely extracurricular.

Administrations at Sentinel work very hard to disperse funding to activities properly. So many factors have to be taken into account, such as student numbers and participation, operating costs, travel necessity, material expenses and more. This small portion of the  budget has to be dispersed among so many departments. From interviewing all of these people it is obvious that they are trying to do the best for their students. 

Note: Mr. Oliver was not available for comment.