Part two: Understanding funding distribution within PPS athletics

In our first article of this series we covered various coach perspectives on the allocation of resources. Since filing a public records request on October 27, Portland Public Schools (PPS) and Athletic Director Jessica Russell have been unable to provide these records. 

Without these records we sought out to answer more questions about sport’s funding.  When interviewing the majority of Lincoln’s head coaches, we discovered inconsistencies in the overall satisfaction of the funding they received. 

While some coaches are relatively pleased with the resources provided, others expressed concerns and displeasure. These concerns include tournament costs, coaching stipends, practice facilities and fundraising. 

In interviews, coaches were asked if their programs receive a specific budget for the season. All coaches stated that they are not given a season budget. Instead, sports programs must make a request for resources. Some coaches find this process frustrating.

“It’s really just asking for what you need, when you need it… I’d love to have a set budget that I can manage and know how much money I’m working with,” said Michael Zupan, boys golf head coach. 

Head football coach Matt Caruso agrees. 

“[I would like] a more equitable system for the needs or wants of each program. The best thing would be to know exactly what we’re going to get from the school district, so we know how to budget and how much we need for fundraising,” said Caruso.

Many coaches interviewed also expressed their concerns about player development due to the limited amount of coaches their teams receive. Lincoln’s volleyball program receives one head coach and one assistant coach stipend per team, whereas Lincoln’s football program receives seven paid coaches. 

“Having one or two coaches for a team… it’s hard to really give each athlete the specific amount of time they need to develop as much as they should in the season,” said head volleyball coach, Shailah Ricketts. 

Head dance coach Karissa Dean expressed similar concerns. The dance team receives one coaching stipend. 

“I would love to see an increase or more balance in the ability for me to hire and hold coaching staff that are paid positions,” said Dean. 

Along with coaching stipends, some coaches expressed that they do not receive the proper equipment to develop their teams. In past years, the cheer team received a budget to rent out a cheer gym, however, for the 2022-23 season, this budget was removed. . 

“With the gym budget being removed it does have a big impact on our program. We learn very specific skills [and] to be able to do safely requires specific equipment… that would be very expensive for the school to purchase,” said Meghan O’Malley, head cheer coach. 

As a result of this budget removal, the cheer program is only participating in school events and is unable to compete against other teams, unlike previous competition seasons.  

Lincoln Athletic Director Jessica Russell says she strives for equitable funding across sports and hopes every student is receiving a good athletic experience. Her statement was  not in response to the coaches’ concerns. 

“I want kids to be able to tell their coach if they aren’t getting what they need and they feel other people are and then if nothing changes tell me,” said Russell.