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El Paso-Gridley gets six sports back

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EL PASO - Sports will return to El Paso-Gridley High School thanks to the support of businesses, clubs and individuals who donated $21,000 to the Athletic Booster Club.

The donation will allow the district to reinstate boys and girls golf, boys and girls track and freshman basketball and football to the fall sports line-up.

"We're really pleased that the community members came forward and expressed their support," said Superintendent Bill James. "We're hoping to get a better handle on the financial picture as we prepare the 2006-2007 budget and get some long-term stability so we don't have to do this again."

James said increased expenses, such as rising gas prices, in addition to lower revenues and reduced state finances, led to a $400,000 shortfall. That forced the board to cut the sports program and other areas.

In April, the district's athletic directors proposed returning some or all of the sports if enough money could be raised by June 15.

The proposal allowed both the community and board the opportunity to raise the funds and reverse the decision in time to comply with the Illinois High School Association fall sports deadline.

Booster club President Dave Duncan said the Track Boosters started raising money for an all-weather track eight to 10 years ago and fell a little short, so they donated a portion of that money to help the track teams.

"A large part of the funds were also raised through the Golf Club's draw-down fund-raiser and the rest came from local donations," said Duncan.

The draw-down was sponsored by Friends of El Paso-Gridley Golf, and was so successful that member Terri Vance said it might be used for a future fundraiser.

"I hope we don't have to do this again, but something good came out of it," said Vance. "It gave the kids and parents a good opportunity to come together. Now when they are playing, they aren't playing just for themselves but for everyone who supported them."

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